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God blessed me by allowing me to share the lives of eight dogs during my five-plus decades of life. All of those dogs were with us from puppy to their natural deaths. Most died from old age. One died from a stroke. One from a flipped stomach, and two were euthanized when their cancer pain was too great for them to move. Those lives have shaped my character with their love and loyalty. The bonds with these dogs are so great that I still celebrate each of their birthdays and mourn the anniversaries of their deaths. March, April and May are tough months. Amber, our bear of an Alaskan malamute, died of cancer in April. We miss her chocolate eyes and mounds of “premium” fur.
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April was a particularly bad month that included the passing of my beloved Skye, our blue-eyed Husky who shared so much love and Husky energy with us.

Spring has come to involve so much sadness for me that this month I sought solace in my writing to relieve my grief. Below is a poem I found that puts some purpose to my sadness. God chooses those to be guardians and teachers of His dogs. There is a special purpose to being a dog lover.

It was during the purchase of my first pet-store Boxer in Mexico City that it occurred to me that this puppy’s life would be so short, and that I had been chosen to be a dog lover. I vowed to make that Boxer’s life special. His name was Tiger. It was during that first encounter in that pet store that I realized dogs were drawn to me as their friend. The pet-store owner brought out the entire litter of eight Boxer puppies. They’d been in their cage so long, they were just learning to walk. Tiger staggered over to my father’s shoe and shit on it. “That’s the one I want “I shouted. Tiger became my best friend. I spent every available minute with him. I was a lonely, frightened pre-teen in a foreign land. Tiger became my first and only friend until I found sports and teammates. He gave his life of love to me while guarding my family. Tiger lived a long and blessed life of fourteen years before passing from a heart attack in October: another difficult month which includes the anniversary of my father’s death/murder. The freezing weather and frost of October also brings the memory of lying in our backyard hugging our second Malamute, Cala, as her old body failed before she passed.

My wife and I have shared our home with four Alaskan Malamutes and a Siberian husky. We had dogs before children. My son was raised by two Alaskan Malamutes, Cala and Sergeant Preston (cousins). Each new puppy came to me to show they’d made their choice.

I was seated on a Husky breeder’s floor about a year after our 150-pound Malamute, Hana (Amber’s sister), passed from cancer. I hadn’t picked a Husky from the swarming litter when a blue-eyed puppy curled up in my lap to gnaw my fingers.

“ That’s the one I want!” I told my wife. We named that Husky Skye for the sky-blue eyes. My wife was freaked out by Skye’s icy glare, but became overwhelmed by the puppy’s love and energy. Skye’s was blessed by our joining as well. By the age of three her energy had torn out both her back knee joints, requiring $10, 000 in surgical repair. Most owners would have put her down. We had the surgery done, and nursed her back to health. She’s rewarded us with years of unconditional love, laughter, and stress relief. Staring into those icy orbs is like looking into the eyes of an angel. It just brings me happiness and peace. Skye’s non-stop Husky energy and playfulness brings us life during these depressing times.

.Lend Me a Pup: Author unknown

I will lend to you for a while a puppy, God said,
For you to love him while he lives
and to mourn for him when he is gone.
Maybe for 12 or 14 years, or maybe for 2 or 3
But will you, till I call him back
take care of him for me?

He’ll bring his charms to gladden you and
(should his stay be brief)
you’ll always have his memories
as solace for your grief.

I cannot promise that he will stay
since all from Earth return,
But there are lessons taught below
I want this pup to learn.

I’ve looked the whole world over
in search of teachers true,
And from the fold that crowd life’s land
I have chosen you.

Now will you give him all your love
Nor think the labor vain,
nor hate me when I come to take
my pup back again?

I fancied that I heard them say,
“Dear Lord, They Will Be Done,”
For all the joys this pup will bring
the risk of grief you’ll run.

Will you shelter him with tenderness,
Will you love him while you may?
And for the happiness you’ll know
forever grateful stay?
But should I call him back
much sooner than you’ve planned,
please brave the bitter grief that comes
and try to understand.
If, by your love, you’ve managed
my wishes to achieve,
In memory of him that you’ve loved,
cherish every moment with your faithful bundle,
and know he loved you too

It is my belief that dogs choose the ones they care to share their life with which gives me comfort in my purpose. I know my wife and I did our best to give all our dogs the happiest existence possible. She and I fulfilled our purpose, and rejoice in their memories.

Another belief that gives me comfort over my grief, is my faith and the knowledge that all of my dogs will greet me in heaven, where will be together again forever. This gives me peace in life. I believe that there will be happiness at the end. For now … I see each of them where ever I go, and I take comfort in their company. Thank you, Lord for the eight lives You shared with me. Till we gather again in heaven, “I love and miss’ya, my babes!” In memory of “Tiger” (1971-1984), the cousins Cala and Sergeant Preston (1987-2001), the sisters Hana and Amber (2001-2009). Skye (2011-2021).

This Memorial Day weekend, and every day in between, I also wish to extend my gratitude to all the American armed forces members who served and died, giving me the freedom to express myself in writing.

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