With my puppies huddled around me for protection from a thunderstorm, it was not hard to come up with an idea for this week’s Throwback Thursday writing prompt. I’ve always been drawn to animals of any type, really. I’ve had dogs, cats, fish (that didn’t go so well), and at one point even a ball python. But I’ve always been especially fond of dogs.
Max was the first dog I remember well and he was a German shepherd/collie mix. He seemed really, really big at the time, but I guess he was just a normal sized shepherd. I guess it’s all about perspective when you’re only about 4 feet tall yourself.
One of our most memorable dogs was Beau. He was a collie/shepherd mix and just gorgeous. He was a bit of a runner, though, and he was able to jump the short fence we had around the backyard. The only thing he responded to was cookies. So the whole neighborhood knew when Beau got loose because there would be a parade of blonde girls running down the street yelling, “Cookies, Beau, cookies.”
We were still pretty young and to walk him required two leashes. My sister Diana and I used to use two leashes and walk him around the yard so he wouldn’t get loose. One time we were out and a squirrel ran across the fence. Beau was off like a shot. We lost Diana after a turn by the swing set, and a few minutes later after dragging me for a bit, he lost me on a poplar tree. Didn’t get out of the yard that time, but he had the two of us laughing about it.
Can’t remember when we got Chu-chu, but I do remember including her in a poem. “My dog Chu-chu looks so cute, running around in her furry little suit.” When Chu-chu was getting older we got Juneau, who was a huskie/shepherd mix. (We love the shepherd mixes.) Despite the larger newcomer, Chu-chu still ruled the roost. I can remember her walking right under Juneau while she was eating and nudging her out of the way. Juneau would just wait patiently until Chu-chu had her fill and then she would finish eating.
Since I moved out when I was about 19, I have had four cats and six dogs. We had a golden retriever named Tasha who was an amazing dog. When Maddy was in pre-school, two cats adopted us. They had camped in our yard and I told Maddy if they were still there the next morning we’d take them to the vet to get them checked out and would take them in. That night I was making cupcakes for her class and I heard this plaintive meowing. I looked out the kitchen window and below the window Creed was sitting on the grill looking up at me. Aw, so cute. I turned back to what I was doing and not a minute later, I heard a noise at the screen. He had jumped to the window and was clinging to the screen. He really wanted to be our cat. I still have him 15 years later. Sadly his partner in crime, Pearl Jam, died a few years ago.
Max was an accidental rescue. I went to the pet store for cat litter and he was with a rescue group. He was a big, black, Great Pyrenees/black lab mix. I just wanted to take him away from the crowd because he looked so miserable. So I took him to an empty aisle and sat on the floor next to him. He rolled over in my lap and that was it. I was banned from the pet store for a while, but it was totally worth it.
When Maddy was 9, she decided she wanted to volunteer with a rescue group. When we ran across American Greyhound at the county fair, we signed on to help. We would go with the group to local pet stores and introduce the dogs that were available for adoption to prospective owners. We decided to foster one. They called us foster flunkies. As soon as I saw Annabelle get off the truck from the track in Wisconsin, I knew she was staying. We did successfully foster one more after that for the record.
Roxi was rescued a short time later. She’s a boxer/something mix, but mostly boxer. Bounciest puppy in town. And fast. Soon after that Caleb joined the family. He’s a big gangly shepherd/hound dog mix and while a force to be reckoned with if you’re on the other side of the fence like his nemeses, the Shar-Peis next door, he’s just an 87-pound lap dog.
Lastly, we got Layla a couple years ago. She’s a full-bred GSD, and was supposed to be a foster for a friend. Just before her dad was going to come get her though, she was diagnosed with Megaesophagus. At just 12 weeks, she was not given good odds, but I researched and found several online groups, including this Yahoo group and with their advice and support and that of our vet, she has beaten the odds and is more than two years old. She has to be fed upright in a Bailey chair that I made and her food has to be soaked and blended. Then gravity does its work as she sits upright or with someone holding her for a half hour. We call it puppy therapy time because you can’t be sad when you’re holding a puppy.
Share your pet memories and pictures with us, but more importantly, share them with your family. Below are some more pics of my dogs. Hope you enjoy them.
About Juliana Smith
Juliana Szucs Smith has been working for Ancestry.com for more than 16 years. She began her family history journey trolling through microfilms with her mother at the age of 11. She has written many articles for online and print genealogical publications and wrote the "Computers and Technology" chapter of The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Juliana holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists.