by Pack Member Kelly
I don't have a memory in my life that doesn't include a dog in some fashion. I grew up with a variety of breeds, and my parents modeled how to care for and love them as the members of the family they were. When our Great Dane Yeb died, I was in college and my mom called me at work, I was so upset I had to leave. But I knew I wasn't home enough myself to be a responsible pet owner at the time.
When I got married, we bought a house and became pregnant and FINALLY! I could have a dog of my own. In fact, we decided to have two litter mates to keep each other company while we were at work.
We brought Bob and Emily (Em) home when they were six weeks old. Bob was big and gregarious and Em was timid and shy, and we loved them for the darling babies they were. They learned quickly and despite some minor chewing issues, were obedient and sweet puppies.
When I was eight months pregnant, and Bob was eight months old, I saw him wobbling around and bashing into things and it scared the living daylights out of me. We took him to the vet and he recommended we take him to an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Luckily, we lived in Columbus, Ohio and THE Ohio State University had a wonderful (and affordable!) veterinarian program. I took him in, they examined him, and they told me he had one of the worst cases of retinal dysplasia they had ever seen. In layman's terms, genetically he had folds in his retina that not only caused blindness, but cataracts and glaucoma. Bob was going to completely lose his vision and there wasn't a thing we could do about it.
The sire's family wanted us to have Bob put down immediately, which I found shocking. He was neutered. He was a member of the family. We didn't even bother registering him, because it didn't matter. We were going to take care of him for the rest of his life because he was ours and we loved him.
When our daughter moved to her big girl bed, Bob slept with her every night. When he was four, he had to have his eye removed and replaced with a prosthetic because his glaucoma was so severe, but it never slowed him down. He was the happiest, sunniest, most tolerant boy in the entire world and he never once let his disability limit him.
When Bob was ten, he developed arthritis and dementia, and by age eleven, we decided his quality of life was so impeded it was time to let him go. This happened seventeen years ago. I'm crying as I write this, because dog love never, ever ends. Bob taught me it's okay not to be perfect. That happiness is not based on being flawless, but doing the best we can with our gifts and challenges and to embrace life with exuberance and joy no matter what we're up against. Bob prepared me for my son having meningitis and strokes as an infant. It was still terrifying but I was hopeful and reassured, because I had seen how obstacles can be overcome and life can be full and rich even with deficits.
There are so many reasons to love dogs. I've had more than Bob and Em, and I'll talk about them another day. Every dog we love brings something different and magical to our lives, and the LuvPug Foundation wants to give as many of them chances to do that as possible.