Monday, August 31, 2015

National Dog Day ~ Column from Sunday's paper

I smiled this morning while looking at my calendar when I realized that it was National Dog Day. It seems every few days is some kind of holiday. Many of them do not resonate with me, but National Dog Day is one I can embrace.

Through the years, we’ve had great dogs. All of them were either given to us or wandered into our lives. There must be some kind of canine sign that says, “For a good meal and a warm bed, go to Rick and Jilda’s house.” Most of the mutts had dubious pedigrees, but that didn’t stop them from nuzzling they way into our hearts.

A longhaired German Shepherd named Duke was the first dog that owned us. I have hundreds of photographs we took of him through the years. He loved to ride.

During the summer, I would leave the back window of my old Plymouth Valiant open. The instant Duke heard the rattle of keys he was off like a shot, diving into the backseat like a stunt dog.

Later when I bought my first pickup, he rode in the back to Grand Rapids, Michigan with us. When it began to rain and sleet, he shared the bucket seat with Jilda through most of Indiana.

He lived with us for 13 years and when he died, we both wept as if we’d lost a child.

There was a story in my first book Remembering Big that detailed how another mutt named Ol’ Buddy came to live with us.

He was a snarky little critter that belonged to Jilda’s mom. I despised that little beast but when Ruby broke her hip and was hospitalized for weeks, it fell to me to feed Ol’ Buddy.

Each day when I went to feed him, he would race out of her house, run to the spot where she’d fallen, and look in the direction the ambulance had taken her.  I did the same routine for weeks. He ate very little, and I was afraid he would grieve himself to death before Ruby made it home.

One Saturday when I went to feed him, I just sat down on the ground beside him. I had a couple of Slim Jim sausages and I broke off and fed him little pieces while sitting with him staring down the road.

Slowly he crawled up into my lap and we sat there for a long time. After a while, we stood and he followed me to the truck.

He lived with Jilda and me for many years.

Some dogs bonded with me, and others, not so much. We had one dog we named Gibson. She adored Jilda and would not have cared if aliens had abducted me. That little short-legged lab (mix) lived to be almost 17.

Our friends share pictures of their kids and grandkids, but I always reach for my phone to show pictures of our pups.

As I type these words, Caillou the wonder Collie is at my feet.

He and our little Yorkie look like thoroughbred dogs, but we don’t hold that against them.

If you haven’t already, I suggest you hug your mutt in honor of National Dog Day.


  1. Dogs really leaves their paw prints on our souls. Growing up in the country we always got our dogs from them adopting us. The first dog I vaguely remember was Poke. One of my favourites was Toby and Fox which I do believe might have been part coyote..not sure what that dog was except super smart. 3 years ago I lost my Katie, my fun black lab-she was 13 and she has my heart. Now we have Wallace, our rescue phobic of the outside dingo doggie. I hug him every chance I get

  2. My favourite Watson dog? Ol' Buddy. I always looked forward to the next post about his antics.

    Ms soup

  3. I enjoyed reading your Sunday column. We too have had several dogs and cats that have found us over the year, and we have gotten attached to them but I have found it so difficult saying good bye that I can't bring myself to get another dog or cat as pet.


  4. What a great article..I'm going to share it with my friend who has 4 border of which I sent her way when I found out it was being sent to a shelter..she'll really enjoy this! We haven't had a lot of dogs in our married life...just 1/12...see, we had the family mutt we rescued from the pound..Ferris the Wonder dog..he was with us for 15yrs. Then my son got Eddy the Boxer so he was 1/2 ours for 5yrs while Jordan lived with us. Now they're in their own home and we'll get to dog sit for a week when Jord takes a business trip in Sep. I guess that makes him 1/2 ours again! I had a dream a few weeks ago that Jack and I bought a camper that came with a dog named Ralph. When we plan our day or week we always say...and don't forget to take Ralph! Have a good day Rick!

  5. That's a great photo of Caillou. Every day is National Dog Day with Franklin. He's seated next to me.


  6. I do miss my dogs, especially my Lab. Great story about Ol' Buddy. I'm surprised giving a piece of a slim Jim to a dog, did not have a bad ending.

  7. Isn't it funny how often bloggers have similar posts? My post that began today is about my son's dog. Great minds.......

  8. Our last dog was a corgi, but she died of cancer. We keep thinking about getting asnother dog but haven't gotten around to it. I keep thinking that a dog will find and adopt us one of these days.

  9. Ol' Buddy's looking down the road, the way of the ambulance almost made me cry out-loud.
    Thanks for turning that sob right into a chortle with your next-to-last sentence.

  10. Anonymous4:48 PM

    I have been dogless for too long--I want one!!

  11. You made me laugh and cry here, altogether. When we move, I have determined we will have a dog.

  12. Dogs are just angels on earth. I can't imagine NOT having a dog (though my Hubzam will sometimes voice that wish...).

  13. I love this. My best friend growing up was a dog. I felt the shiver and watery eyes as I read this. You are good dude. neat stuff. Dogs, truly boys, man's and even girl's best friend. It is the EYES!!!!!
    Thanks for a sweet read.


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