Extraordinary True Stories of Loyalty, Healing & Inspiration
by Allen and Linda Anderson
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: New World Library (November 1, 2010)
The Anderson husband and wife team is back with their latest animal inspiration book, Dogs & The Women Who Love Them: Extraordinary True Stories of Loyalty, Healing & Inspiration. This new book celebrates canine-female teams who have formed deep bonds of companionship. Women from all over the country share their heartwarming tales that will make you smile, cry, laugh out loud and, for many of my fellow doggy Mamas, have you nodding your head several times as you read along.
There is something to be said about the bond between a woman and her dog.... the devotion, sincerity and joy shared by both often go unmatched. Gildna Radner once said, "I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive." So true. Our 4-legged friends become a never ending support system during both the good and bad times... listening intently on every word we say, protecting us from anything and everything (or protecting the garbage from the trash man who comes to pick it up every Friday), curling up beside us (or in our laps; especially true for our larger canine friends) on the couch to watch our must-see shows, or becoming our own personal trainer by getting us up off that couch for another walk!
Whether you're a normal doggy Mom or a Crazy Dog Lady such as myself, you'll enjoy the tales in Dogs & The Women Who Love Them. This is a book for dog lovers, so grab a copy for yourself or for someone you know will love it this holiday season!
The following is an excerpt from Dogs & The Women Who Love Them...
Life Lessons from Teddy
Diana M. Amadeo, Merrimack, New Hampshire
When our third child was about a year old, my husband and I were under pressure to adopt a family dog. During spring break I took the kids to the humane society, where we discovered that none of the pets tugged at our heartstrings. We were halfway out the door when an elderly man arrived with a tiny dog so dirty that it was impossible to determine his color. The man said the dog had been retrieved from the arms of his sister — a hospice patient who had chosen to die in her home. He guessed that the poodle was about a year old.
We asked to see the dog and found him infested with fleas. When the dog played with my kids, he ran around, over, and on them. He jumped up and planted big wet kisses on their lips. Then, tiring of the kids, he suddenly propelled himself onto my chair, licked my cheek, put his head on my shoulder, and fell asleep.
“What is his name?” I whispered.
“Teddy,” the old man said quietly. “My sister called him that, but you can change it.”
It was an impulse decision — the kids and I debated for only a few minutes. Teddy had become so happy and excited to meet us that he had melted my heart. I worried that if we waited to adopt him, the next person in the door would take him and my children would be disappointed. So I signed papers to adopt the dirty poodle and promised to have him seen as soon as possible by a veterinarian. I had a fleeting concern that there might be more wrong with him than fleas. I wondered if I should slow down and insist that the humane society’s vet check him out first. And I worried how my husband would react, since I had failed to include him in this decision. But my overriding concern was that Teddy had just been taken from the arms of his dead owner, whom he obviously loved, and rushed out of familiar surroundings. I didn’t want this emotionally fragile being to be caged with dozens of barking dogs.
After we brought Teddy home, I immediately flea-dipped him. To my surprise, he turned out to be snow white.
There was never a question about keeping his name, because it suited him. When we called him Teddy, he immediately reacted with a wagging tail and huge grin. I also felt that Teddy didn’t need any more abrupt changes in his life, such as a different name.
Teddy wasn’t housebroken, and his behavior was less than desirable. He was by no means a perfect dog. But his imperfection became downright endearing. Whenever he was reprimanded for wetting the floor, his cheerful demeanor — his wagging tail and smiling face — noticeably changed. His tail would drop and he’d hang his head in shame. I couldn’t help but grin, forgive, and try to teach him again.
Teddy did not like being alone. There wasn’t a cage that could hold him, a door he couldn’t open, and a latch that he couldn’t figure out. The first time we left him by himself in our home, he leapt onto my son’s desk, pulled off the window screen, and tore it to shreds. When we got home, he proudly showed us his handiwork. I found myself wondering how such a little dog could make so profound a mess.
When we had an oak staircase put in our home, Teddy somehow maneuvered around the barricades and left perfect doggie prints in the shiny new coat of polyurethane on the stairs. The next day our carpenter cried out in exasperation, “Teddy, no, no, no!”
As our family grew, we added a second-story porch to our home. The contractor worked steadily for a while and then left the project unfinished while waiting for the windows to arrive. One morning Teddy made his way onto the porch, spied the open cutouts where windows would be placed, and took off at full speed. As in the old Mighty Dog commercial, he soared through the air before landing on the ground two floors be-low. Immediately he began to cry, hold up his paw, and then limp pathetically. A squirrel gathering acorns caught his eye. In a flash Teddy, suddenly healed, took off to chase the squirrel.
After I had a severe exacerbation of multiple sclerosis, I was left relatively immobile and with visual impairment and hearing loss. Teddy never left my side. He’d lick away my tears of self-pity and place his paw compassionately over my weak hands. Wheelchairs and crutches followed, and Teddy remained by my side, smiling and wagging his tail joyously at my physical progress.
Spasticity can be very painful. Teddy always seemed to know when I was hurting. He would jump on my lap, lay his head on my chest, and give me comfort. His activity level slowed to match mine during my ten-year rehabilitation. We remained inseparable, with him as my shadow.
Teddy could sense my down days, and if I felt weak he would not leave my side. One day I was in the living room, unable to pull myself from the sofa. I was facing our glass front door and watching traffic go by. Normally, Teddy would sit at the glass door and watch the outside activity too, but sensing my weakness he remained leaning against me on the sofa.
A deliveryman brought flowers. He rang the doorbell, and Teddy growled but didn’t rush to the door. The deliveryman saw me lying on the sofa, and I motioned him inside. He walked in the unlocked house and handed the flowers to me. Teddy growled at the intruder and climbed on top of me. When the deliveryman left, Teddy jumped off my body and licked my hand, as if to say, “It’s okay. I protected you.” This tiny nine-pound dog had in his own way ferociously defended me. How could I not smile?
After we’d had Teddy for a decade and a half, his eyes dimmed with cataracts and his hearing progressively worsened. He began having occasional bouts of arthritic pain and developed lateral sclerosis of the spine. When he couldn’t make it up the stairs, my husband or children would carry him. About that same time, Teddy started acting confused and he frightened easily. Two years earlier, when he had first shown signs of heart disease, I had talked with the veterinarian about euthanasia. But Teddy had rebounded miraculously, and our life together had continued. Finally, though, despite medications of all sorts, his entire body was simply shutting down, and the time had come to ease his suffering.
The decision — whether or not Teddy should be euthanized — was left to me. I agonized over it, not only because he seemed to rally so often and come back after being close to death, but most of all because I loved him much more than I thought anyone could love an animal. I loved his silliness, clumsiness, kisses, and protectiveness. But I could not leave him in so much pain just because I needed my spirits lifted. When you love someone, you let him go.
I believe that the spirit of a living being never dies. For a week following his death, I could hear the soft clink of Teddy’s dog tags, and the familiar sound brought me comfort.
And then I had a dream. Across from me, Teddy sat on a stuffed, black leather lounger. He looked humanlike with his legs crossed. In one paw he held a cigar. In the other paw he clutched a double bourbon. He smiled and said, “I was dying anyway. Don’t sweat it.” Then he raised his glass in salute and vanished.
This type of dream was totally out of character for me. If, while awake, I had visualized Teddy after death, I would have seen him in the clouds and with wings. But in recalling his antics, I realized that the dream actually was Teddy delivering one more of the many life lessons he had taught me. For Teddy wasn’t perfect. He was silly. He didn’t come off as too smart. He lived life to the fullest, his way. And when his time came, he had no regrets.
Meditation: The life lessons a dog teaches aren’t always lofty or esoteric. Sometimes, they are like Teddy’s — live and let live. When has a dog made you smile at the wisdom of his or her ways?
From the book, Dogs & The Women Who Love Them. Copyright © 2010 by Allen and Linda Anderson. Reprinted with permission from New World Library.
About the Authors: Allen and Linda Anderson are speakers and authors of a series of twelve popular books about the spiritual relationships between people and animals. They co-founded the Angel Animals Network in 1996 to increase love and respect for all life through the power of story. They donate a portion of the revenue from their projects to animal shelters and animal welfare organizations.