Friday, February 14

Puppy Love by Jana Richards

On January 3, we had to make the painful decision to say goodbye to our seventeen-year-old dog Lou. It was a difficult and heart-breaking decision to make. Lou had arthritis for years but in recent months she had a very hard time walking. We gave her medication for the arthritis, but unfortunately, the medication had begun to affect her kidneys. The poor old girl was very, very tired.

Lou, in happier times. 
She was such a good dog for so long, and I adored her. But she almost didn't come into our lives.

We'd had cats for years, and I adored them, too.  We got our first cat, Snuffy, when I was pregnant with our older daughter. I probably babied her horribly, since I was in full nesting mode. She was a sweetheart. So, when she was run over by a car, I was devastated. I probably wouldn't have gotten another cat, at least not so quickly, but my aunt and uncle lived on a farm and they had kittens. A neighboring tom cat had killed most of the other kittens in the litter and my aunt wanted me to take the kitten before it was lost, too. What could I say? So Blackie came into our lives.

Blackie wasn't exactly friendly. Her favorite spot was up on top of the cupboards where no one could bother her. She'd occasionally allow me to pet her, and then suddenly turn around and bite me when she'd had enough, purring all the while. Even with all her quirks, Blackie was my girl.

But she wasn't a child-friendly pet. My older daughter was about eight by then and begged for another kitten, one she could play with. We made a trip to the Humane Society and found Princess Samantha, a.k.a. Sam. Sam had an calm disposition and loved being around people, both adults and children, making her a good pet for my girls.

We had both cats for a long time - Blackie for seventeen years and Sam for twelve. We lost them both to illness within a couple of years of each other, and once again it was devastating. I was done. I had no plans to ever get another pet. It hurt too much to lose them.

My daughters had different plans. My younger daughter had been asking for a dog practically since she could talk. I could always put her off, saying we already had two cats. But now that our cats were gone, I no longer had an excuse. The search was now on for a dog. But I really didn't want one. It was too hard to lose a pet.

I found an ad in the paper for a one and half year old pug/terrier cross for sale. We went to see her and it was love at first sight -- for my daughter. Me, not so much. Apparently, the owner was a breeder with several other dogs that she kept outside. Poor little Allu, the name the breeder had given the pug/terrier, was underweight, had a shabby coat and smelled terrible. We bought her anyway, with the strict understanding that she was to be the girls' dog.


Anyway, with love, good food and many baths, Lou gained weight, grew a lustrous, thick coat and smelled much better. And was the best friend we ever had.

Today, on Valentine's Day, the point of my story is this: love is worth the risk. That sentiment is often the theme of my books because it's so very true, in relationships between people and with animals. If I hadn't been coerced into bringing Lou into our home, I would have missed out on over fifteen years of love and laughter with our girl. Even though we've lost her and our hearts are heavy, the happy memories make up for the heartache.

Happy Valentine's Day.


  1. Oh, Jana, I'm so sorry! I know the pain and loss you feel. But, you're absolutely right: Love is worth the risk. Thank you for reminding all of us that that is so. Oftentimes, we're afraid to love for fear we'll get hurt, but not giving our hearts away hurts us far, far more. This was a beautiful and poignant piece. Thank you for sharing you grief with us. xoxoxo

  2. Thank you, Janie. I have to remember all the good times we had and what a wonderful dog she was. I'll never be sorry I loved her, no matter how much it hurts now.

  3. I loved this post! And I'd have loved all those pets, too. Sympathies on losing Lou, and I hope the next dog or cat that adopts you is the perfect one. Love is definitely worth the risk.

    1. Thanks Liz. I haven't come to a decision about another pet. I'm still at the 'it hurts too much' stage. And we're getting older and not sure we want to be tied down. In the meantime, we have our daughter Rachel's cat Gibby who we babysit occasionally, and my daughter Dana's fish, who are currently residing in my living room. But I've learned never to say never. Another pet could happen some day. We'll see.