I have loved dogs for as long as I can remember. In fact, one of my earliest memories was of my dad asking me to name our newest pooch. I was only 3 years old and my vocabulary was considerably small so I blurted out the first thing that came to mind and that was “Sheppy!” You might be wondering where I got that name. My best guess is that it was a childish corruption of the word ‘Shepherd.’ Clearly, I must have overheard my parents mention that our new dog was a German Shepherd. ‘Sheppy’ was the closest approximation to ‘Shepherd’ that I could muster.
Believe it or not, Sheppy was one of my first and greatest teachers. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I was always the best student. But that never seemed to matter to Sheppy; he simply kept repeating the lessons. Now you might be wondering how a dog could act as an instructor. Well let me answer that! Sheppy used a teaching technique called ‘modeling.’ In essence, Sheppy modeled the traits that I, and most of you, will spend a lifetime trying to acquire. Let’s get specific! Sheppy modeled unconditional love, acceptance, loyalty, affection and fierce protectiveness. Frankly, I don’t have enough space to write about all of the traits that Sheppy modeled; dog owners will know what I mean. Regardless, Sheppy was determined to lead by example. Alas, after years of repeatedly attempting to teach me these important traits, my dear Master Sheppy Flowers ultimately shuffled off this mortal coil. For those of you who dislike Shakespearean references, Sheppy died. Needless to say, I was sad for quite a while.
But, as you might have guessed, Sheppy wasn’t the last dog in my life. In fact, he was the first of at least fifteen. And, as a result, I learned that every dog is essentially a teacher who is trying to convey the traits that I mentioned above. With that said, I would eventually take lessons from other “teachers” like Champ, Lil Gal, Princess and Frisky. One of my more memorable teachers was Bones. My dad brought Bones, who was very ill, to our home with the intention of caring for him until he died. In essence, dad was providing doggy hospice. Dad and I loved, fed and nurtured Bones until he peacefully passed away. From this experience, I learned that all sentient beings deserve to be cared for and loved; even unto death. Although it was tough letting Bones go, I took solace in knowing that his last weeks were filled with affection, love and comfort. Aha! I had begun to catch on! Lesson learned.
At any rate, I am happy to announce that my current teacher is Angel. She is the Pomeranian pictured above. I can assure you that age has taught me to pay closer attention to the lessons this time around 🙂
What have your pets taught you?
In memory of my dogs (I included their breeds for those interested in knowing):
Bones, Princess and Demon–Doberman Pinschers
Lil’ Gal and Frisky–Beagles
And all the other dogs that Daddy cared for over the years.