Pets are a blessing. They ask so little of their masters, but give so much. Hannah is my very first dog. By that I mean that she is truly my dog. The family had other dogs, but they always went to the barn with my husband.
Hannah is now an old dog, but don't tell her that. She runs around the yard like a pup sniffing and woofing at every scent she picks up. I should mention here that she is part beagle and part cocker spaniel.
She has been a faithful companion. My husband and I found her while she was at the Pet Animal Hospital for a surgical procedure. On our way home from the hospital we started to talk about the dog we saw. At the time my husband was in the middle of his battle with cancer. I could tell by his voice that he wanted another dog. We contacted the humane society and made all of the arrangements. Her name as she came to us was "Ishie," but we quickly changed it to Hannah of Hickory Heights.
She adapted well, but she was truly a handful. She could not go out on her own because she got on a trail and ran away. After she pulled my husband over one time when he had her out I assumed all of the duties pertaining to the dog.
I have now had her for 12 years. She has been through thick and thin with me. All she asks is a table scrap here or there, a pat on the head, or a good rub when she has been good. Her biggest drawback is her insatiable appetite. Anything that is left out is fair game.
Through the years she has eaten a number of things that she is not supposed to have. When I was delivering gifts to the grandchildren from a trip that I had been on she got into my bag and polished off the rest of the chocolate fudge that I had been gnawing on during the bus trip. If you know anything about dogs you know that chocolate is not good for them. Well, Hannah had no ill effects.
Another time she polished off a whole pan of rhubarb rolls that I left on the table when I was saying goodbye to the children after we ate supper. Again, there were no ill effects.
The most serious trouble she got in was eating rat poison out of my closet. She had to open the door to get to it, but she managed to consume all that was left in a short amount of time. For this I consulted my vet. He gave me detailed instructions, and she threw up most of the blue crystals. She did have to be on medication because rat poison can make a dog bleed inside. Thank goodness that escapade is behind us, and she had no ill effects.
They say cats have nine lives, but I am beginning to think that is what my dog has. Right after my husband died I took my dog with me everywhere. It was a comfort to have her along. She waited patiently while I attended meeting after meeting. She locked me out of the car more than once, but it was still good to have her along.
A few years ago I installed an invisible fence. The fence cost me a bit of money, but it has been worth it. Now I let the dog out, on her own, to wander the yard. She very much respects the fence.
I am not sure what I would have done without a dog to console me when I lost my husband. She has been my companion and my comforter. When I was recovering from surgery she just seemed to know. She did not jump on me, but she lay right beside me as often as possible.
My cat is another story. Cats just do not seem to have the sense that dogs do. I did not say they are not smart, just mischievous. I love my cat, but he keeps me on my toes. If he wants to go out, he gets naughty. He knows if he does enough bad things I will let him out.
If I am seated he climbs on my lap. As long as I do not move he stays put. He is a heavy boy so sitting still for a considerable length of time is not an option. My legs begin to get tingly.
Goliath has very long fur and extremely long whiskers. Every once in a while I find a stray whisker on the rug or in a chair. He is prone to his hair getting matted. I have already warned my son that he will probably need a lion cut again this year. We did that once before when he was full of mats.
When I arrive home I am greeted by an orange ball of fluff. Sometimes he wants out. Sometimes he wants to be fed. Sometimes he just wants me to sit down.
I feel fortunate to be "mom" to a dog and a cat. They are great company. My pets are good friends. They cuddle up together and lick each other on the head. If Hannah is not in her bed, I just might find Goliath there. After they have been outdoors they come in like two little kids. As soon as the door opens, in they come.
There is no question about who is the boss. The dog is always the first one in. She also makes the decision about where she wants to be. The cat takes what is left. Here's to all of the faithful pets out there. They are a blessing.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.