Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Perfect Dog

Life is full of "First's".  The first time you rode a bicycle, your first day of school, your first best friend, and of course your first pet.  The bond we form with our pets as children is a special and unbreakable one.  It stays with you forever, and in many ways it changes us.

I will always remember my first dog, Ginny.  She is what people would call my "Heart Dog", the one that grabs hold of your heart and soul and never lets go, never leaves you for the rest of your life.  As the youngest of 5 kids, I literally grew up with Ginny.  I hardly remember a day in my young life without her.  I was 7 when that fluffy bundle of joy, a Golden Retriever mix, joined our family.  She left us 17 years later when I was in my twenties.  Ginny was everything to me; my best friend, my respite from an otherwise chaotic household, and my protector.  She always "understood" me. She knew when something was wrong and when I needed someone to comfort me.

You never forget your first dog.  My first dog Ginny was such an important part of my childhood.
My childhood dog Ginny, my Heart Dog.  I will love you forever sweet girl.
I have so many wonderful memories of Ginny, she was truly a special dog.  I know we all say that about our childhood pets, but she really was!  She never needed any kind of training, she instantly grasped all the basic commands and never misbehaved.  Wherever you went Ginny always remained at your side.  She was super smart, friendly, always gave kisses in abundance, and was as loyal as any dog could be.  She loved everyone she met and everyone she met loved her!  I was so lucky and so blessed to have Ginny in my life.  To me she was the perfect dog.

When my older brother and I fought she would get in between us and start barking, like a Canine Referee.  We'd have to laugh and stop fighting!

When things got "heavy" at home and I was upset she'd come over and lay her head on my knee or nuzzle me to let me know she was there for me and that it would be ok.  

I was a teenager when an Uncle I loved dearly was in the hospital.  We didn't know if he was going to make it through a complicated surgery (he didn't), and I was left home alone while my parents rushed to the hospital.  I was sitting on a living room chair crying when Ginny came over and placed her head on my knee.  She licked my tears away as I hugged her vigorously.  She knew when I really needed her.

Oh, how I wish I had a photo of Ginny dressed like Cinderella that Halloween I decided to bring her Trick or Treating with me and my friends!  I remember putting her in a blue Cinderella princess dress from my Halloween costume the year before - Ginny was nothing if not a cooperative dog who only wanted to please her owners.  

The neighbors got a kick out of this beautiful Golden Retriever dog who came to the door dressed as Cinderella.  In those days, we didn't dress our pets up or spoil and pamper them like we do today.  Although my Mom did make her a bowl of meatballs and spaghetti so she could join in our Italian family dinners on Sundays!  Not giving the dog people food that could be potentially toxic wasn't of particular concern back then either.  My Father declared Ginny "An Italian dog" because of the way she devoured Mom's meatballs - she made the best meatballs!  Living in an Italian household, Ginny probably ingested more garlic than any other dog in the county, never mind that garlic is toxic to dogs!

My first dog Ginny.  I was 7 when we adopted her and in my 20's when she passed away.  My Heart Dog, Ginny
Ginny loved running free through the woods next door to our house.
Like all our pets, Ginny was a shelter dog, and like many Long Islanders we got her from the Bideawee Home animal shelter.  I remember my Dad loading my brother and I into the car to "go get a dog" at Bideawee.  I remember looking into the cages and seeing a litter of adorable puppies, Ginny among them.  I remember the car ride home and how me and my brother fought to hold our new little golden ball of fur in our laps.  I remember the whole family, my parents and my 4 siblings, gathered around this new puppy in the family room brainstorming to come up with a name for her.  I don't recall who came up with "Ginny" but it was perfect, and to this little girl she was perfect.

Ginny definitely had us all at "woof".  She captivated our entire family for 17 years.  Decades later I still think of Ginny and what she meant to me.  It's amazing that after so many years, I can still vividly remember the glorious experience of going to adopt my first dog, and so many of the wonderful experiences I had with her.  


I am proof positive that giving a child a pet can be the most wonderful gift of all. Pets can teach a child so much; Responsibility, Kindness, and most of all Unconditional Love.  I'm filled with gratitude to Bideawee for giving my family the joy of our lives, a Golden Retriever mix puppy who for us was The Perfect Dog.   

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Do you remember your first pet?  Tell us about it in the comments!

36 comments:

  1. Actually, the one I consider to be my true heart dog was Angel Shiloh - my Beagle boy I lost last year to cancer at almost 13 years of age - he is the one who made the most impact on me. The first one I barely remember as a child was Cookie - a long haired Chihuahua - she was a cutie but that is about all I remember. My dad was in the Navy and we moved a lot - at first it was nothing to rehome our dogs when we moved - so maybe I kind of blocked from my mind any real attachment. We eventually had Mitzi - a little female poodle - we had her for her lifetime (maybe too long). We also had Beau - another toy Poodle - my dad and mom eventually made the decision to take him to the shelter because he pee'd too much - something I would never do today but things like that happened all too frequently back then. The dog I considered MY first dog didn't happen until I was a senior in high school - Kammie was a Sheltie mix I got from the shelter; probably came close to being my heart dog. Ok - that is way more than you asked for - sometimes I do that.
    Mom Kim

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing! I love that you remember so many of your dogs. The first one may not always be your "heart dog", but Ginny sure was for me. I'm sorry about Shiloh, but I'm glad he had a good long life with you before he passed away. Forever In Our Hearts, right?

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  2. My childhood pet was a Beagle so that is probably why I love hounds so much. I think all children need a pet. Your Ginny sounds perfect. ♥

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    1. I think first dogs often set the tone for the love of a breed. Ginny was a Golden mix and I have always loved Goldens! Kids & dogs just GO together! Ginny truly was Perfect in my eyes.

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  3. Oh, for sure I remember our first pet! We were "puppies" together. I think I was about 2 when my parents got a beagle puppy for us - we named him Barney. He was the best!

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    1. That's such a cute way of putting it Jackie! Ginny and I were "puppies" together too, we grew up together. I bet Barney was a real sweetie!

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  4. Awww, I genuinely teared up reading this. Ginny sounds like the perfect friend! When I was growing up, all I wanted in the whole world was a dog, but my step-dad wouldn't allow it. So we got a cat named Tigger and he was my best friend. I started volunteering at the animal shelter in middle school and the woman who ran it, Janet, became like a second mom to me. I spent all weekend, every weekend volunteering there and practically all of my summers. I couldn't have my own dog, so I loved on all the dogs waiting for families in the shelter. They were all my "heart dog" and instilled a love of animals and rescue that has never left my heart. Much love to you and to Ginny. I hope she's up there with my cat Tigger having a grand old time. :)

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    1. Oh, thanks Debbie! I glad you had an emotional reaction to it, I teared up writing it too. I love how you volunteered at a shelter at such a young age - that's the most wonderful thing! Thank you for sharing that.

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  5. I love that your childhood dog was your Heart Dog. I remember, Toby, I picked up out at an animal shelter for my 5th birthday. Loved him, bust buddy ever. But, my current boy, Dexter is my Heart Dog. Totally wrapped up with him. <3

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    1. Ginny was really something. We had the strongest bond a kid and a dog could have. I can see that Dexter is your Heart Dog, he is just the sweetest and you take such amazing care of him!

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  6. Mr. N is my first dog! And he also likes playing referee. We had hamsters once when I was little.

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    1. Oh wow, I didn't know Mr. N was your very first dog! That makes him even more special than he already is!

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  7. Oh Cathy, I loved reading about Ginny! Love that you remember bringing her home so vividly. Love the story about her comforting you when your uncle was in surgery and the story about her barking and breaking up arguments with your siblings. So sweet. Thanks for sharing Ginny with us.

    I had a childhood cat named Pepsi who joined our family when I was 5 and lived with us until I was 21 and I still remember bringing him home, too.

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    1. Aww, thank you Kristin! I'm so glad you enjoyed Ginny's story. She was, and is, the most special dog in the world to me. Your experience with Pepsi is similar to mine w/ Ginny - both dogs we got as little kids and lost when we were in our 20's. We literally grew up with them!

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  8. Wow, 17 years is amazing! I would have loved to see Ginny dressed as Cinderella. My first pet was a German Shepherd Dog named Tasha. She was very protective of us and even dragged me by the diaper away from the street when my dad was supposed to be watching us. I have one picture of her and I treasure it.

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    1. I really was incredibly blessed to have Ginny for 17 years, especially back then when Vet care and pet food were not the high quality and priority that they are today! I love that Tasha played "Nanny" to you and kept you safe!! Thanks for sharing that Heather!

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  9. What a lovely heartwarming story. Ginny sounds so perfect. It made me think of my first dogs and of Cookie and Isabelle who grew up with my daughters for almost 14 years and almost 17 years. Isabelle even looked a bit like Ginny. Dogs can be wonderful for kids and teach them so much as long as the family is prepared and able to care for them properly. XS

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    1. Thanks, I'm so glad you enjoyed Ginny's story! Dogs definitely can be a kid's best friend and teach them about kindness, compassion, and empathy.

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  10. I remember one of our dogs vividly, we found her on the streets in Israel and she came we rescued her, she then came back with us to South Africa (1975) and lived out her life there being totally spoiled - what wonderful memories

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    1. What a beautiful rescue story Ruth, thanks for sharing that with us!

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  11. I too grew up with wonderful pets. Lots of cats in our home and dogs at my Grans. I also had guinea pigs. Taught us responsibility via care, and compassion but also how to be gentle and patient. Caring for a pet is a form of meditation I believe.

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    1. Yes, pets can teach kids so much! I definitely found caring for my many pets to be very therapeutic too.

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  12. I think a dog for kids is fantastic as long as the parents are willing to carry most of the load or at least making sure the kids own up to the responsibilities.

    I remember step-daughter ONCE wanting to take Jasmine for walks and almost bailing when I handed her poop bags.

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    1. LOL!! Yeah, kids don't really like the Scoop the Poop part of having a dog. Parents definitely need to carry the bulk of the responsibility, but it's a great learning experience for kids.

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  13. Having a pet as a youngster makes a child more amendable to gentle feelings and caring attitudes to animals. Some children don't have this and grow up to do terrible things.

    You are lucky to have pictures of your dogs. Dad took ours and we didn't get him back, but he was a beautifuul pointer and to this day I adore pointers :-)

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    1. I fully agree that having pets teaches kids about compassion, caring, empathy, & responsibility. I don't know if kids w/out pets all grow up to do terrible things though, LOL!

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  14. I had two first pets that arrived at about the same time. I named my first cat, Buttercup after the skunk in Bambi and my first dog, Scatter because my six-year old self thought she scattered around. Buttercup was a beautiful calico kitty who was definitely the boss of the house. Scatter was a deep red golden retriever who would play with me and my brother endlessly. There truly is something special about the bond one develops with their first pet.

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    1. How wonderful that your first two pets were both a cat and a dog! I agree, there really is something so special about the bond between kids and pets. Thanks for sharing Bambi & Buttercup's stories!

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  15. Ginny sounds like she was such a beautiful girl both inside and out. I had a heart dog too. My parents adopted her as a puppy (she just showed up on the doorstep one day) a few months before I was born. She was my best friend from day 1 until she passed away when I was 12. I still think about her all of the time. Hopefully, she would be proud of who I've become.
    -Purrs from your friends at www.PlayfulKitty.net

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    1. Oh how incredible! I love that your first dog was there beside you from birth, how special! I think about Ginny all the time too. I'm sure your dog is VERY proud of who you've become, and how you've helped other animals!

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  16. You are very lucky to have had Ginny in your life! We were a multi-dog family, but one of our dogs lived to be 17. She was so special to all of us. Whenever we had pancakes for breakfast, we also make little ones appropriate sized for the dogs and even the parakeet. (No syrup though.)

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    1. I do feel so blessed to have had Ginny in my life as a child, she was incredible. I love your pancake story, and I'm glad you omitted the syrup! Thanks for sharing that, LOL!

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  17. My first pet was a Collie named Tiny. I remember many times crying into his fur as a child. He would protect all of the children in the neighborhood. He was really special.

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    1. Aww, Tiny sounds like an amazing dog! Crying into a dog's fur is definitely very healing for a child. Thanks for sharing about Tiny.

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  18. What a great story about Ginny! I can definitely see why she was your best friend! Although I've always loved pets, my parents never let me have one, so I didn't get my "first dog" until well into adulthood. Jessie, a toy poodle puppy mill survivor, was my "heart dog." I adopted her when she was 8. She'd endured a very bad life producing puppies in a puppy mill, but she didn't let that break her. Jessie had such a big personality for such a little dog, and I had total love and respect for her. Best friend, wing girl and all around great girl. She liked to wear outfits and always had her nails painted her signature red when she went for grooming. She passed away a couple of years ago, and I think of her all the time. They all impact our lives, but there's always one that's extra special. Ginny for you, Jessie for me........great girls both!

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    1. I'm sorry your parents didn't let you have a pet, but I'm so glad you were able to rescue Jessie! What an amazing bond you two had, I can see that. You gave her a beautiful life in her later years, thanks for sharing about Jessie, she was one special dog!

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