A real case of puppy love

Around Town • AMY ROSEN

Ialways wanted a dog. From the time I was a child, if anyone asked me what I wanted for my birthday, without hesitation I answered, “a dog.” Since we did not have a backyard for a dog to roam around in, my parents did not think it would be a good idea to have one. They suggested that I get a dog when I was married with a house and a big backyard.

In the interim we had several parakeets and a couple of turtles and I attached myself to the dogs of relatives and pretended they were mine.

I loved my birds and taught them to whistle a special way, and some even learned to talk. Having them brought me a lot of joy.

The most painful experience, however, came when they died. I remember my sister and I crying inconsolably when our first parakeet, Bluebell, passed away. The cutting pain of losing our beloved pet was something we had never experienced before.

As I grew older and lived through the demise of many other parakeets, and most recently our beloved Sniffles the bunny and Petey the lovebird, the pain of losing a pet still hurt, but the way I dealt with it changed. My own pain over the losses became secondary to helping my children cope with their grief over the loss of adored members of our family.

Taylor Taylor I did eventually get a house with a big backyard and brought a puppy home when my children were young, but we soon had to find a new home for the dog, Lacey, when the baby had several severe asthma attacks in a short period of time and three doctors blamed the allergies on the dog.

During the few weeks we had Lacey, I realized that the amount of hard work and dedication it took to train a puppy and take good care of its needs was as big a responsibility as taking care of a child.

After that, my children and I had to resort to giving our affection to the dogs of people who are closest to us. Most often that meant our neighbor’s dog, Oatmeal, and my sister and brother-in-law’s chocolate Lab, Taylor — or Taylor the Wonder Dog, as my husband nicknamed her.

Taylor came into our lives as a beautiful brown puppy 15 years ago when I was pregnant with my youngest son. I remember lying on the floor with my big belly next to the puppy the day they brought her to her new home.

Like me, my sister had never grown up having a dog and was worried about taking care of her new puppy. Between her husband, who had experience with dogs, and the successful completion of a positive puppy training course for their family (including their children), Taylor developed excellent manners and became a revered member of the family.

My sister devoted the same amount of dedication and attention to details in taking care of Taylor as she did her own children when they were younger. Children grow up and become less dependent on their parents, but a dog needs help forever.

Taylor lived a long and happy life, but we all know that dogs do not have the same life expectancy as people.

Taylor battled sporadic medical complications throughout her life beginning with the onset of severe allergies as a puppy and cancerous growths as early as age 4.

Taylor’s medical problems necessitated treating cancerous growths with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, as well as fighting urinary tract infections and weakness of her hind end due to arthritis and a degenerative neurological disease, among other things.

Through it all the family, and most especially my sister, remained steadfast in their resolve to go above and beyond what some people are willing to do in order to keep Taylor alive, comfortable and happy for an extended period of time.

My sister researched options with a vengeance and employed both conventional and holistic methods, special diets, medications when necessary and supplements, in addition to acupuncture, physical therapy, long walks, swimming and more. They built ramps to help Taylor get around and in the end even carried her when necessary.

Others, including our mother and a dog sitter, pitched in to walk and feed Taylor when the family had other commitments and could not get home during the day.

Taylor’s story was featured in the May 2008 issue of Whole Dog Journal when she successfully underwent shock wave therapy for the arthritis in her hind quarter.

My sister and her family gave

Taylor a long, happy and full life for 15 years, the equivalent of 105 years in humans, but recently had to make the heart-wrenching decision to humanely let Taylor go.

Although all of us who loved Taylor are, once again, saddened by the absence of a faithful, loving and intelligent member of our family, we are left with wonderful memories of Taylor to cherish forever.

My sister recently told me that Taylor changed her life for the better and she is grateful for the time she had with her. She said that through her journey with Taylor she learned to love and respect all animals and chose to make quality time outdoors with her family and dog a priority in her life.

We were all glad to have had Taylor in our lives, and it is with a heavy heart and much love that I bid farewell to Taylor the Wonder Dog, who lived up to her nickname in many ways. She understood everything, loved us all unconditionally (even more when we gave her a treat), and sensed it was time to move on. We miss her warm breath, expressive eyes, hearty bark and especially her gentle kisses, but we will cherish the fond memories forever.

Amy Rosen is a Greater Media Newspapers staff writer.