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Meet the Family: A Journal of my Lifelong Canine Companions

Boxer Rottweiler mix female dog in purple collar
Callandra "Callie" the Boxweiler

Always Dogs: Questions I never asked my parents and Answers I didn't realize I had found.

The first dog I remember having was a Poodle-mix or Cocker Spaniel (I know, huge difference, but I was in Elementary school and not very observant) and her name was Toddles. I have no idea where my parents got her from, but I distinctly remember scooping and burying her poop in the unplanted flower beds in the back yard with my sister on lawn-mowing day. One day Toddles magically had two puppies, a boy and a girl. I remember my parents being very surprised about this because we had a fully-fenced backyard. The girl puppy, named Buttons, stayed with us. I have no clue how these two left our lives, but they have just moved out of my memory.

The next dog I remember was from my sixth grade or Junior High school years named Samantha, I remember calling her Semuthada. She was a Terrier-mix with a fun-colored coat of apricot and white (that I can now identify as Piebald). I remember my Dad being mad at us for getting her and am kinda fuzzy on that one, because my Mom didn't really like dogs, so I think maybe my older sister just brought her home. She did not live with us for long as she was hit and killed by a car and I remember the neighbor across the street came to tell us she found her. That is one of the only times I saw my Dad cry. He buried her on the lot that the workshop he built was on. He wouldn't let me go with him.

Judd was my High School dog. He was a curly little boy who I got to name, so of course, he was named after the cutest boy in my school who I had a major crush on. When my sister moved out she took him with her when she moved. We, of course, did get updates on how he was doing, and how he always seemed to find lotion bottles to chew open and eat. The mystery of where he was getting it from was solved when one day the security guard from the local grocery store followed him home and it was discovered that he had learned to steal lotion from the bottom shelf of the grocery store and take it home to eat.

It was years before I had another dog. I was 27 or 28 and I went to get Raisin-Pigmented lipstick from my Mary Kay lady. She had an adorable litter of Rottweiler/Boxer mix puppies ready to go home. The two smallest had been bottle fed because there were so many in the litter. One of those was destined to be ours. I wrote a check and put lipstick puppy in the memo line. Callandra, or Callie, was one of the sweetest and smartest dogs ever. She is pictured above. I don't think I really appreciated how easy she was to parent until many years later. We took her to puppy kindergarten and she did so well and was the star pupil of the class. We bought a VHS recording on How To Train Your Dog and Eric went through all the lessons with her.

After we bought our first house, we decided that Callie needed a sibling and so we bought Casey from a breeder about an hour away. She was a purebred German Shepherd, but didn't come with papers. She had a loving and sweet temperament, but had genetically-terrible hips, something I didn't know anything about. She tore her ACL jumping out of the truck and the treatment included her not being able to get out of the kennel to use that leg for over 3 months. The healing was really incomplete, but was all that could be done for her. One day the toddler of a friend who was visiting our house stumbled and fell on Casey's leg. It was so quick, but Casey turned and bit her on the face. It wasn't a full bite, just a "Stay off of me" bite, but the girl had a puncture above her eyebrow. She was fine, no permanent damage, but it was a risk we couldn't take again. After talking to the Vet about the bite and her quality of life due to the constant pain in her leg, the decision was made to put her down. I knew that the pain in her leg must have been awful for her to actually bite someone.

Callie really slowed down after her sister was gone, and we just thought she was getting old. Until one day I was following her up the stairs and noticed that she was leaking a bit of urine on every step. The Vet found a mass in her bladder, and after an attempt to extract some fluid she began to fade quickly. We just had time to get our kids there to say good-bye before she passed away. I learned later that Boxers are prone to Cancer.

The next time we got a dog was nearly 8 years later. Sometimes you aren't ready right away and sometimes you are. It is a very personal decision that no one should try and make for anyone else. After a short search we found a Christmas-Ready Labrador Retriever from a family who wanted their dog, Lucy, to have one litter of puppies to "settle her down". We asked about her parent's hips and got Papers before paying for her. We first named her Christmas Cricket and then Jingle Belle for about one day each. Then someone said she is so hyper. Piper just seemed to be her right name and that finally stuck. When we registered her with the AKC we added her mom's name, Lucy, and then, because it seemed like she needed a third name, we added Belle.

Piper Lucy Belle

This was really more of a rambling tale than anything productive or informative. I did learn some things along the way, but actually didn't discover my true passion for dogs in a real way for another 5 or 6 years. But that is another story...

Thinking back on my experiences since childhood, I see that dog-ownership has changed over the years. There wasn't a real push to spay/neuter your pets and lots of unexpected litters. I remember having my dog running around all day with us and returning home at dinner time. I am wondering how unique my story is? I would love to hear what your experiences were like as a child and growing up with your pups! Please leave a Comment below.

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