We begged. We begged for months. We promised to brush him, feed him, bathe him, scoop his poop. We would’ve promised just about anything to convince our parents to get us a dog. My sister was 16. I was 8.
I’ll never forget the day we got her. We went to the pound and could only pick one. There were so many. How do you choose just ONE? As I walked by kennel after kennel of barking dogs, tails wagging, panting heavily from excitement, I came to one little black and tan pup curled up in a tight ball in the back of her kennel, her eyes peeking out over her skinny little body. She was trembling. I bent down to her level and asked her to come to me. She was so scared. “It’s okay”, I told her. She hugged the floor as she scooted up to me. She was beautiful. Her name was Princess.
After long negotiations with my mother about why THIS dog was the one, my mother gave up on trying to change my mind to the little white fluffy dog she had taken a liking to, and we took Princess home with us. I loved her already.
It took a little while for her to gain confidence; she was a nervous little pup. But she trusted ME to do anything to her. We took walks. We dressed her up in doll clothes. We even dabbled in a 4-H agility program called “Puppy Pals” when I could convince my dad to take us. My sister had quickly lost interest in Princess. She would even make fun of her because she would practically fold her body in half (butt to head) and scoot around sideways when she was excited. Admittedly, it DID look funny when she did it, but it made her unique and I would never dream of laughing AT her, only with her. Because she was my girl.
Our bond strengthened as the years passed. She forgave me for my mistakes, like when I forgot her outside during an ice storm. My mother and I had gone away one evening and it started to sleet. As we approached our driveway we could see her standing there, shivering, waiting, ice accumulating in her long black tail feathers. I felt terrible. How could I forget her? She would never forget me. As I towel dried her and apologized a hundred times, she licked my face and all was forgotten. And I forgave her for her mistakes, like her obsession with keeping the cat litter box free of any cat poop. I didn’t kiss her for a few days, but I forgave her.
My family life eventually took a turn for the worse and there were times when not much in my life seemed safe or secure, but she was always there for me, and I for her. Princess seemed to have a way of knowing exactly how I was feeling and she always responded appropriately. We celebrated together, we played together, we slept together, and she comforted me the day my dad left us. She never let me feel completely alone. If it wasn’t for her, there surely were times when I would’ve been.
As I grew up, she grew older. But we did that together too. If I was taking a quick trip for fast food, Princess was too. If my boyfriend (now my husband of 15 years) and I were taking a walk, Princess was coming along. Taking care of each other was never an inconvenience. It’s just what we did. And when it was time to move out of my mother’s home, my husband and I bought a small starter home so Princess would have a nice yard to play in. No apartment living for this pampered pooch.
Princess was approaching her golden years but she was still just as involved in my life. She visited “grandma”, went for ice cream, and had “career days” with me at White Oaks when she needed a nail trim, and then more frequently when she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. My husband and I were young and just starting our lives together. Her medicine cost nearly $100 a month, but there was never any question about our willingness to do it. She was my baby. I would’ve sacrificed every luxury to lengthen my time with her. And I know she would’ve done the same for me.
In June of 2000, we found out we were being blessed with a baby. We couldn’t have been happier. Life was good. Princess was over a year into being treated for her heart failure, and she was doing well. Until September. Her decline was fast. Her kidneys were failing. I knew she couldn’t be with me forever, even though that’s what we both wanted, and I had to make the right decision for her. She trusted me and her fate was in my hands. So on September 23rd, 2000, at five months pregnant, I said goodbye to my Princess. I literally could not remember what life was like without her in it. I was absolutely heart broken. She had taught me to be unselfish, she had taught me to make sacrifices for those that you love, she had taught me to get joy from giving, she had taught me that just being there with someone who was struggling could save their life, she had taught me what it was like to be completely depended upon for everything…she had taught me to be a mother.
In February 2001, my precious baby girl, Hanna Grace, was born. I know Princess would have protected this child with her life, the way she had always protected me, and I had protected her. I miss her. Since then, I have never gotten another dog. My children are now 12 and 8 years old. We are a busy family and I can’t imagine having the time to care for one like I did for Princess. We are crazy about our three kitties – Pidge, Crosby, and Nigel. Quite frankly, I can’t imagine any other dog living up to my expectations since I’ve already owned the best dog in the world. When our clients hear that I don’t have a dog they are often surprised. But every time one of them has to say goodbye to their beloved dog, the best dog in the world, my heart cries with them, because I have loved, and been loved, by a dog.