Miriam Webster defines saved as:

: to rescue or deliver from danger or harm

: to preserve or guard from injury, destruction, or loss

: maintain, preserve

I am not sure who saved who but I do know that my dogs have changed my life. I had dogs as a kid but they were never really MY dogs. They were family dogs. Dogs that were chosen for the family by others.

My first dog was Buddy. He was adopted from the Anti-Cruelty society of Chicago. I still remember walking past cages and cages of pups and older dogs never feeling that any one of them was the right dog until I walked into a small, rarely visited corner of the shelter only to lock eyes with a pup that would soon become my best fur-ever friend. Buddy came home with me later that week as my first child. We moved in  and I spent my time planning a wedding and training a dog. He was a great dog full of vim and vigor. He saved me from loneliness. He loved me and protected me. He kept me company, taught me things about myself, and helped me become a better mom. He really was (and I do call him this still) my first child. When my first daughter was born, he took to her as if it was his own, protective and gentle to a fault. I moved and had more kids but Buddy was always a constant. He loved each new home and each new child even more. I moved one last time and the stairs were too much for him. He was getting old and I would not admit that my pal was failing. After 11 years, the last moved proved too much for him. Within months, he deteriorated and soon could no longer walk. His last night, my oldest slept beside him as he whimpered and she cried. Making the decision to put him down was the most difficult, yet humane thing I have ever done. I took him alone and stayed with him until he took his last breath. I cried for weeks at the loss and still cry thinking about that day. I know he is healthy and eating as much meat as his belly can hold, watching over us.

Living without a dog was lonely and sad. I didn’t feel completely safe at home at night with just the kids. It began with a donation of Buddy’s favorite bed back to his shelter. What a mistake! The kids saw the dogs and began to beg for a new pal. So we began the search for a new fur-ever friend right then and there. We looked at all the dogs and in the last cage was a dog that looked like a smaller version of Buddy. I could feel His paw in this chance meeting. This dog’s name was Precious. I told the kids we had to wait. We had to look at other shelters. I told them if she was there the following week and we had not found another dog, we would bring her home. Well, after looking at many shelters/websites/meeting dogs, the following week, she came home with us. Her name didn’t fit her nor our family so the kids changed it to Wrigley. She was a high energy pup that needed constant exercise. I walked her and walked her hoping to lose a little baby weight. It didn’t work. She wanted to run so we started running 1/2 a lap around our local park. That lead to a whole lap and then a challenge from a friend to train for and run a 5k. Wrigley soon became my favorite running buddy and we ran, albeit slowly, as I trained. I finished that first race and we ran many more miles together as I trained for many more races over the years. She was really the one that began my running addiction. She saved me from myself and a sedentary life. This winter was a sad one for my running buddy and I as at the age of 8, The vet told us Wrigley had arthritis and could no longer run with me….it was just too painful for her. I see it and understand it but the sadness in her eyes each time I head out the door for a run is often too much to bear. She is still such a vital member of the family and now has a new job…big sister/mother figure to our newest fur-ever friend, Tank.

Tank was not a pup I was interested in adopting but one that the kids wanted.  I knew that the work of the pup would be mine which is why I was not interested. I was done with potty training and chewing and midnight walks. I had come to terms with running alone. I was not in the mood for the expense of another dog. But the family over ruled me. So this summer has been dedicated to training and exhausting a playful pup. He saved Wrigley and me from boredom this summer. Wrigley keeps him in line and teaches him the ways of the pack. I marvel at the bond that has formed between them and worry what will happen down the line as Wrigley continues to age. Tank challenges me more than is necessary most days but I feel Buddy’s paw and presence again. I know he is up there watching with those loving, playful eyes protecting me. As Tank grows by leaps and bounds every day, I am reminded of all that Buddy and Wrigley have taught me. I am reminded of the unconditional love that my fur-ever friends provide me. I am reminded that it is not us that saves or rescues our fur balls, but it is the fur balls the choose us…that love us…..that change us…..that rescue us….that save us.

Peace. Forward is a pace.

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