is full of teachers. Nearly every one and every thing that
becomes a part of our lives has the possibility of becoming a
teacher. My precious boy, Vern, was one of the finest
teachers in my life.
was so food motivated. He
would never let me sleep in on weekends unless I got up to feed
him, first. I’d
wake up with his wet nose about 1 inch from mine. He would be quietly staring at me, and grinning from ear to
ear, and it woke me up every time.
Lesson 1: You do not have to be
rude or loud to get attention, you do not have to say a thing to
be heard, and you do not have to touch to be felt.
(and Tinkerbell) woke up every morning with a big happy grin and
took a minute to stretch and snuggle.
It was one of the highlights of my day.
They greeted me the same way every time I came home, no
matter how long I’d been gone.
2: Always greet the
ones you love with a smile and a cuddle – you never know when
they’ll really need it, or when they’ll be gone.
was uncanny at determining who a person was on the inside.
I have memories of him pointing out to us a con artist, a
drug dealer, and a liar (and more), all without violence, but
also without apology. This same dog was fine with letting a
young retarded boy hang all over him, grabbing and pulling and
squeezing, and patient Vern just kissed him whenever he got the
3: Appearances mean
nothing – trust your dog.
the first park we took him, there was a playground. One
day a father with a three-year-old (or so) said "Look,
honey, a 'Carl' dog." Then brought her over to
visit. She was shy and we told her that he'd kiss her if
she asked. She did and he kissed her and she
giggled. Next thing you know, Vern had ~20 children
arranged around him in a semi-circle all shouting “gimme a
kiss!” at the same time, and he eagerly attempted to comply
with all the commands and never once got crabby or disobedient
-- he was proud and smiling.
we first got Tinkerbell she was nearly 6 months old and very
traumatized. Vern took her under his "wing" and
took it upon himself to "reach her" so that Paul and I
could teach her and bring her into the family. Without
him, that baby would have been lost completely because, truly,
he was the only one who could communicate with her for the first
and Tinkerbell encountered a baby opossum in our yard one night
and rushed on it and 'caught' it.
It played dead and they sniffed it all over, then when I
told them to, they backed off and let it go completely unharmed.
had a barbeque and one of the mothers left her baby in a carrier
on the ground to be watched by the others while she used the
walked up, stuck his head in the carrier, sniffed the baby,
kissed it’s whole face, and went in search of more barbeque.
a different barbeque one of the guests brought the smallest baby
puppy you've ever seen in your life (it was maybe 2
pounds). It was so insistent that Vern play with it, and
so concerned about Vern's size. But Vern played and was
gentle and never hurt the little guy or scared him.
4: Children, of any
species, are to be loved and cared for, not harmed.
After only 8 years with my handsome
boy, we noticed a lump on his shoulder. The diagnosis was a fast
growing, terminal bone cancer and he had only a couple months
left to us. We wanted to make that time special and so we took
him to the park and made him boiled liver, but there wasn't even
enough time for a barbecue. A couple friends just came to visit.
The look on Vern's face reminded me that this is how it was for
him as a puppy and over time we'd gotten lazy. I remember so
clearly the "no way, mom -- liver?!!!" look when he smelled it.
How long had it been? I don't know. And this dog I loved so much
that it still hurts a year later.
Lesson 5: Life is short and
ends without warning. Live each day as though it were your last.
Treat your loved ones as though you will never see them again.
Laugh. Love. There is no room for hate and pettiness. Eat off
the "good" dishes whenever it strikes your fancy. Screw "them"
and what "they" say. It's your life -- own it. You just traded
24 hours of breathing privileges for today. Did you get a good