Do you like dogs? Up until COVID hit, I did not like dogs. In fact, as a kid I literally maneuvered my baby sister between myself and any dog. She was a dog lover from an early age and whether the dog was big or small, she never showed signs of fear. Unfortunately, baby sister wasn’t always around and my paper route days on the East side of town was full of dogs. However, I knew where they were and I avoided them if at all possible. Simply put, dogs terrified me.
As a mother of five, our children begged for a dog, but we dissuaded them with other pets- rabbits, fish, snakes, lizards, a turtle even ducks (now that is a story for another day). Admittedly, I found dog owners rather annoying especially those who treated their dogs like children. With a suburban full of kids, I couldn’t imagine adding a dog to my load.
Now let me clear the air, I was not heartless. In fact, my family and I held a funeral for the dog of our dear neighbor- we’ll call him Clyde- the neighbor not the dog. Clyde loved his dog and when his dog passed, the entire neighborhood rallied to show our love for Clyde’s best friend. My husband built a dog coffin and another neighbor lined it with satin. The funeral was in Clyde’s backyard and it was complete with a eulogy, a talk, a musical number, and refreshments. It was very well attended complete with dog lovers on the front row crying their eyes out, and Clyde lovers on the back row wondering exactly how they came to be at a dog funeral. It is an event still talked amongst neighbors to this day.
I thought we had cleared the “dog hurdle” until our son brought home a puppy just as COVID hit. Little did I know that this wild, happy, energetic, handsome, smart, athletic rambunctious Border collie/Australian Shepherd would become our family’s “Covid miracle.” Kobe immediately became an integral part of our family. He drew us together as we looked for activities which could include him. We spent a lot of time during those dreaded early pandemic months outdoors hiking, fishing, camping, and 4 wheeling. Everything was a novelty with the newest member of our family. Kobe even tried joining us in pickle ball and basketball. I suppose he knew his namesake was Kobe Bryant and that he possessed his athleticism as a birthright.
For me personally, Kobe pulled me through some incredibly dark days. As the world grappled with social distancing, shut downs, remote learning, and economic upheavals just to name a few one of our children was diagnosed with a mental illness and it literally took the wind out of my sails. But it was Kobe, the dog, who got me through. Each morning, he would bark awakening me for our morning adventure and we would hit the neighboring hill for our morning run. Kobe didn’t talk, he didn’t complain, he didn’t add to my pain. He would run ahead and then double back to check on me as I “slogged” along. He became my life line as I listened to podcasts and trusted in my faith to pull me through. Kobe became my best friend.
In the fall, the world somewhat went back to normal and I returned to the classroom teaching high school English. Over the summer, it had become apparent that Kobe needed more space. We hated seeing him in a kennel all day and so we looked for a home that would fit Kobe’s needs better. Sooner than I hoped we said our good-byes. We knew Kobe needed farmland and a place to roam. I will never forget the image of watching him drive away in the back of that pick-up truck.
Kobe’s void nearly swallowed me whole. Not long after his departure, my husband found me sobbing my eyes out in our pantry (I was trying to hide). When he asked me what was wrong, I said, “I can’t believe how much I miss that “dumb” dog. Being a good husband, he hugged me a loved me and then he said, “if you can find a dog that is house trained, doesn’t bark, doesn’t shed doesn’t jump on people, and is well behaved, I will consider it.”
I guess, he didn’t think I could meet all of the requirements, but I did. By Valentine’s we welcomed Katie, a poodle, into our home. She is a great fit for our family and our neighborhood. Now when I meet other dogs around town or walking in the neighborhood, I don’t wish for my baby sister to rescue me. I greet those four-legged friends with enthusiasm and I share stories about Katie and Kobe, the dogs that will always have my heart.