Coastal Post Online


November, 2003


By Judy Borello

Our Best Friends

This is dedicated to all of you that have loving, faithful, trusting friends such as dogs around your house and in your life.

Having raised dogs all my life, I can personally attest to the fact that without them my life would have been devoid of a lot of companionship and protection.

My venturing into the world of canines started very young. My father told me that he was convinced to build an oversized playpen for me because of the joy that emanated from me and his adorable pups as we played for hour after hour together. Smart man, my dad, he confined a romper-rat and four vivacious pups and we were all happy and content (although I never heard who had to clean out the playpen!).

Then around age four or five, I had a pet named Dude, a beagle hound that played with me. When I made mud pies and decorated them with flowers, I wondered why, when I offered these creative confections to Dude, he wouldn’t eat them. The dog was smarter than me because I would sample them!

The death of Dude was my first real heartbreak and the reality of death. I remember sobbing convulsively and asking my parents and older sister Pat, "Is there a dog heaven?" Not only did I learn these lessons of life, but I also learned that there were bad people in the world because someone in the neighborhood had poisoned my previous friend Dude.

My grandfather had an English bulldog he referred to as The General, named after General McArthur who was my grandfather's hero. I called my grandfather Pappy and his dog Mac. When I'd visit his home after he had his leg amputated due to diabetes, I was in awe of how The General was even more devoted to Pappy since his operation. The dog never left his side except to eat and do his duty. Pappy had trained General Mac to fetch his crutches and even saved his life one time when Mac pulled him out of his overstuffed chair which had caught fire from one of Pappy's roll-your-own Prince Albert cigarettes having fallen down into the cushion. After Pappy dealt with his lightly scorched butt, he honored General Mac with a most comfortable bed in a basket which was placed right near his master. They both were perfectly happy.

My canine buddies went on to Brandy, the red Doberman who saved my life when a man broke into my house when I was pregnant with my son Thor. Brandy chased the culprit down the street and when she returned there was material from the villain's attire in her mouth. Then there was Loki the Great Dane who was so agile she'd jump onto a picnic table, then up to the tool shed house, then up to the roof of our house on Mesa Road. When the school bus came by and picked Thor up for school, the kids on the bus would excitedly tell Thor there was a mountain lion prowling our roof. After that there was our Rottweiler Roxanne who was so good looking and loyal that my daughter Michele (Chums) had her graduation picture taken with her. But Roxe wasn't looked on so kindly when she crept into Michele's bedroom and ate all of her Valentine's Day candy, the empty wrappers neatly in place, the only telltale sign of this pillage.

In 1998, I had procured two Chows, brother and sister, Bailey and Ginger and brought them home March 17 (good ole' St. Patty's Day). Bailey, a handsome male white Chow was named for Bailey's Irish Cream and Ginger, his cinnamon colored sister, were appropriately named. A big decision for me was whether to get one or two pups. To this day I am so glad that I opted for the pair as they are inseparable. They sleep together, eat together and, most of all, play together, exercising each other without the need for me to take them for a walk.

In September of 1998, I suffered an aneurysm and was imprisoned in the Ross Valley Rehab for six months. A primary concern of mine was the well-being of the pups, who were just six months old and referred to as "the kids.' My mind was playing tricks on me due to a constant feed of morphine, but the strong instinct of mothering and nurturing reigned supreme in my somewhat distorted mind and all I wanted was to go home and check on "the kids." At night I would stare for hours at the cork bulletin board which was within a couple of feet from the right side of my bed. The pictures of Bailey and Ginger were center paramount and I'd gaze at them, devising unscrupulous ways to get out of "jail." I'd try to bribe nurses by offering them money to take me home. I'd offer them $100 and when that didn't work, the price would go up and when the baiting didn't work I'd get very depressed.

Finally my friend Julio came to the Rehab for a visit and was wheeling me around the parking lot in a wheelchair. I spotted his car and became relentless in my pursuit of trying to goad him into wheeling me home for a brief visit with "the kids!" When he refused, I was totally disturbed, hurt and angry. "They wouldn't even miss me for the two or three hours I disappeared," I pleaded with Julio. But as he was wheeling me down the corridor to my room, we ran into Dr. Doughtery who questioned me as to why I was so upset. Being the positive, compassionate, intelligent woman that she was, with the wisdom of Solomon, she encouraged Julio to bring "the kids" to the Rehab so I could see them and touch them. Every Tuesday around 3 p.m., Julio would bring "the kids" over to the Rehab and it was the best thing that could have happened, leading to my recovery. I no longer viewed the Rehab as a prison and began to realize that the therapists were all pulling for me and giving their all for me to get my life back. I did and a good part of this all coming about was due to my two pups. To this day, they still are my closest companions of all. They ask for so little, a little food, a little water, a little pet, and they give so much in devotion and non-judgmental love.

I forgot to tell you that one Tuesday when Julio brought "the kids" to the Rehab, he left them in his compact car in the parking lot while he came to my room and wheeled me outside. In the few minutes it took Julio to accomplish this, "the kids" had chewed up part of his car. The steering wheel was indented, the door handles were obliterated as well as the top of his gear shift. My daughter Michele had pulled up also and was horrified at the condition of Julio's car. She exclaimed, "I would be so pissed off if this happened to my car." And Julio said very calmly back to her, "They're just pups and they like to chew and look what they're doing for your mother." I don't think Michele was impressed by Julio's valiant lack of temper, but I sure was.

The dogs of our town such as Vicki Leed's Sunny and Ben Davis' Trapper all bring back warm memories to me. One of the most remarkable dog days of summer was when Ty Harvell, son of Robert and Kim Harvell, owners of Cafe Reyes and, at the time, my next door neighbors, was about three years old. He sauntered out of his house without notice on his quest to find Christopher Robbin. Thank God his trusty pal Kai, a chocolate brown lab, accompanied him and never left his side. When crossing Highway 1, a car screeched to a sudden stop and the lady driver told Robert later that if it wasn't for the dog Kai, who kept circling Ty, she would have definitely hit the child.

There are so many stories of dogs and their insurmountable odds of meeting the challenges that face them and they do it with such innate instinct and a freedom flying wag of the tail!

P.S. THINGS WE CAN LEARN FROM A DOG: 1) Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride. 2) Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy. 3) When loved ones come home, always run to greet them. 4) When it's in your best interest, practice obedience. 5) Let others know when they've invaded your territory. 6) Take naps and stretch before rising. 7) Run, romp and play daily. 8) Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. 9) Be loyal. 10) Never pretend to be something you're not. 11) If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it. 12) When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently. 13) Thrive on attention and let people touch you. 14) Avoid biting when a simple growl will do. 15) On hot days, drink lots of water and lay under a shady tree. 16) When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body. 17) No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and right back and make friends. 18) Delight in the simple joy of a long walk. -- Author Unknown


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