CANINE LOVES OF MY LIFE – Ellin Curley
I was 11 years old when I got my first dog, a dachshund named Schnitzel. He was my only sibling, human or canine. We grew up together and he was totally my dog.
My parents weren’t really “dog people” so they didn’t love him the way I did. Schnitzel and I were a team. He always knew when I was upset and was there for me. He lived to be 15, so I was 26 when he died. I left home at 22 to go to law school and then got married.
I never came back. I abandoned my buddy in his old age and to this day I feel guilty about it. At least I was with him at the end.
I didn’t get another dog until my kids were 5 and 10 years old. We got a Golden retriever mix rescue dog who was one of the most beautiful dogs I’ve ever known, inside and out. He was one of those once-in-a-lifetime dogs –- incredibly smart, uncannily sensitive, and intuitive. He was mellow, but bright and alert. And fun to be with.
Everyone loved him. The year I lived in New York City, I had to leave extra time when I walked him because people always came up to me to ask about him and pet him. But Sam belonged to the whole family. We each had a special, close relationship with him. That was his super power.
I still think about him all the time and miss him terribly, but he wasn’t my dog.
Just 6 years ago I got another dog who connected to me in that special, intimate way. Her name is Lexie. Part Rhodesian Ridgeback, part Pomeranian, entirely gorgeous. She has a beautiful caramel face with hazel eyes and what looks like a permanent smile.
But she’s a rescue — incredibly anxious, skittish, and neurotic. She is on anxiety medication. Calmer now, but she is still frequently and easily spooked. Because of her anxiety, Lexie is not great at first meeting with new people. Not everyone “gets” her the way I do, which makes me feel more protective of her. Maybe that’s part of why I relate to her so well. I also have anxiety issues, but we are both cuddlers and we seem to calm each other.
Lexie follows me around and wants to do whatever I’m doing, even when that’s just sitting and reading or watching TV. She is wonderful with my husband and he adores her too, but our other dog, Lucky follows him around and is more HIS dog.
My kids left home years ago, so it’s just me and Tom – and our two “shadows”. We each have our own special companion in addition to each other. Which is how it should be.
On “Grey’s Anatomy”, Meredith Grey refers to her BFF/soul mate as “My person”. Lexie is my canine “person” in my empty nest middle age years just as Schnitzel was while I was growing up.