Looking back on the three great dogs of my life

Published 5:33 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My mother always told me that a person was lucky if they had five great friends in their life. I never asked her if that included dogs because if so I have been richly blessed.

I laid to rest the last of the three great dogs of my life this past week. Harry was 15 ½ years old and beginning to have multiple health issues. Nevertheless, he pushed on with the big heart that he had and continued to walk, bark and wander. It may have been the wandering that finally got him.

He was found by a kind city worker along the road a block from our house. There wasn’t a mark on him, and I would like to think he died a quick and painless death. His time left was short and I am grateful he didn’t suffer and that my last memory of him was if he had just gone to sleep.

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Pee Wee was the first of my great dogs. The only female I ever had, she joined our family when I was in the first grade. She slept at the foot of my bed UNDER the covers. She would chew an air vent hole in the spread to my mother’s great irritation. Over and over my mother would replace the bedspread, only to have a new small hole appear.

Pee Wee loved to ride in the boat at Compass Lake, barking at the boat’s wake as we skied endless hours. Occasionally her excitement would cause her to fall overboard. She would swim round and round until the boat came back to pick her up.

Pee Wee lived throughout all my school years, and remained home when I went off to college. She jumped on the couch between Mary Lou and me when we began courting. We were married and living in Donalsonville when Pee Wee was finally put to sleep at the ripe old age of 19.

Bud was the second great dog in my life. A Boston Terrier, he was to be an outside dog. He would jump up and sit on top of his dog house, just like Snoopy in the Peanuts cartoons. He could climb a chain-link fence like a monkey and refused to ever walk anywhere on a leash.

Bud and I walked a thousand miles in Donalsonville, always without a leash. If he got tired on the other side of town, he headed home. If a storm came up and we weren’t home, he headed for the Sherriff’s Department where he would dart into the jail for safety.

When an illness caused me to remain home for months on end, Bud moved indoors and never again left my side. He was a faithful companion during some dark, lonely days.

Later, he slept under our bed until he developed a gas problem. It took a few weeks for my wife and I to discover it was the dog with gas and not one of us.

Bud died at the age of 10 of cancer. He was buried in our yard where he reigned supreme for a decade.

Harry may have been the best of them all. He was definitely the smartest dog I ever knew. It took less than five minutes to train him on a leash. He walked beside first me, and then later Mary Lou, for countless miles on the streets of Donalsonville.

Harry learned how to open the gate of our fence. He would get on a float with me in the pool and relax. He loved having his ears scratched for hours on end.

Harry sensed my moods and knew when to sit quietly and let me think or when to playfully nudge me to get me in a better mood. All he asked was for 30 minutes of attention a day. In exchange for those 30 minutes, I received unconditional love and devotion. Later in life, he realized Mary Lou tended to be the one that fed him every day. He began to run to her first, and they both seemed to enjoy the change in allegiance late in his life.

Pee Wee, Bud and Harry. Three great pets and three great friends. They gave me more than I ever deserved and all helped me celebrate the good times and endure the bad. I would like to think they are in that doggie heaven above, patiently awaiting my arrival home with their tails wagging all. I will be glad to see them again.