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“Diary of a Positive Soul – #3 “

Dog is God Spelled Backwards!

I’d love to be a dog for just one day, living in our house, being taken care of by me and my family. Now that would be the life! I’d have the best seat in the house, get my tummy rubbed whenever I wanted and could stretch my legs out and find the most comfortable position in the universe to sleep in.

 In this column I’ve talked about the clues that are around us all the time ~ clues that help with our daily journey of choosing to stay happy. Into this discussion I submit one of my favorite topics: dogs!


Why? They offer endless opportunities to witness and experience joy. There is a reason that dog is God spelled backwards. They are always there for us, loving us unconditionally and we don’t have to do anything to win their approval. Pure love. And like us, each dog has his own personality and also his own formula for happiness. What makes one dog happy won’t necessarily effect another the same way. I have had three significant dogs in my life and I am going to honor them by devoting a column to each. They deserve it!

Check also: “DIARY OF A POSITIVE SOUL” article by Marsha Roberts
                 “DIARY OF A POSITIVE SOUL – THE WIZARD “ article by Marsha Roberts

 First, there was Zack, our indomitable dachshund: The Wonder Weenie! He was the only registered pure breed we ever had and, truth be told, a bit of a snob, but he was a brilliant, incredible dog, as you will soon see. He would invent complex games to entertain himself ~ like Puppy Hockey, as we used to call it. He had stolen (long story for another post!) a huge rawhide bone from this really big Great Pyrenees dog who was totally intimidated by little Zack. This bone was so big that when he held it in the center he couldn’t go through a doorway! He used to love to chase tennis balls, so there were always several around on the floor.

One day Zack figured out he could hit a tennis ball with the end of the bone then lean around and hit it with the other end. And off he went! By the time he had the game down pat, there was an entire course around the dining room and living room with barriers he had to go around to get his own doggie-points, knocking that ball with either end of the huge bone until: Presto! He’d land it under my husband’s recliner. Goal scored! Two points! He looked so proud. And of course he had to treat himself to a good chew on said bone.

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What an amazing site it was to watch this little determined creature figure out his complex game. Why did he do it? The only conclusion I could come to: it made him happy!

But there were also more serious issues that made Zack happy. Chiefly, the sworn duty of a dog: to Protect And Defend. At night he would go from room to room, up and down the stairs, hustling everyone to their appointed areas where he could keep each of us safe. And if we dared to change the routine – whoa unto us!

The funny thing is, we were anything but a regimented family. We traveled a lot with our work and were often up at odd hours to make deadlines. Zack didn’t like it, but he did his job of watching after us with relentless dedication.

One of my most poignant memories of Zack were the years I suffered with migraines. Normally he wasn’t allowed on our bed, he slept on the floor next to me on his own bedding. But when I was sick, he would hop up on our bed and lay tenderly at my feet, occasionally carefully easing his way towards my face to check on me, my sweet, gentle doggie-nurse. He was such a comfort. I had to lay in the dark and quiet when I had a migraine, but Zack was there with me and even though I was in pain, his presence gave me peace.

The most profound thing I learned from Zack is what he taught me about getting older and, ultimately, leaving this earth we’re currently living on. I learned more things than I can count from Zack, but this was the most awe-inspiring by far.

Zack had been struggling for several years with heart problems. A terrific veterinarian monitored his heart pills which helped to keep him going at 18 years old. By the last year I would have to carry Zack up and down stairs. I certainly didn’t mind taking care of him the way he had always taken care of me, but I hated he had become so ill. There came a point when the doctor had “the talk” with us about what measure did we want to take with Zack because he was indeed dying. She said to us, “I can see how close you are to Zack and I want to prepare you for what’s to come. When animals get very sick, they pull inward and often find a quiet spot where they can go off by themselves to die. It’s natural and I want you to be ready for it.”

The reason that Zack is my getting-older-role-model is that he never did that. His love for us was so complete that it overcame his natural instincts. He ever pulled inward. Actually, it was just the opposite, he reached out to the very end. When he passed, I was patting him and telling him how much I loved him and how he was the best dog in the world. What a way to go, I thought, as I cried for the next several days. Is there a more perfect way to go from this life to the next than with those you love by your side, telling you how much they love you?

Zack is my doggie hero. I want to grow old like Zack did, open to love to the end.

I’ve known many people whose happiness was greatly diminished by the solitude they imposed upon themselves when they went thorough hard times, became depressed, sick, or as they just got older. But I can’t do that because I choose to be happy, which means I can’t close off. I decided to be like Zack. But that’s just me.

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Next time you’ll get to meet Smokey McDoggerson and he’s a real treat! Until then!

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There are 22 comments

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    • Marsha Roberts

      Thanks, Jackie. It is amazing how they become such an integral part of our lives and our family. I’ve learned so much from my dogs and I never stop missing the ones who are no longer here. But we still have Smokey McDoggerson and he’s a trip!

  1. Bob Rector

    Marsha and I had many great dogs, especially when the kids were growing up, but Zak was without a doubt numero uno – and he never let us forget it. The only one still with us today is Smokey, the German Shepherd mix seen above. Shadow, the black lab mix, was the class clown. He died of a rare blood disease at the tender age of seven and not a day goes by that we don’t miss him. Great article, Miz Marsha.

    • Marsha Roberts

      Yes, Mr. Rector, we have loved us some dogs, that’s for sure. I’ll share with everyone about Smokey next time, but Shadow’s will be hard for me to write. So many funny, smart things he did ~ but he left us all too soon and suddenly. I know you miss him as much as I do. And thanks for the kind words about the article. Coming from a consummate professional like yourself, that’s high praise indeed!

    • Marsha Roberts

      Thanks for stopping by Julie! I’ve never had a cocker spaniel, but I’ve always loved being around the. But, about those cats…. Just kidding, I’ve loved a few cats in my time, but I’m definitely a dog person! Cheers!

  2. Christoph Fischer

    Zach sounds like a hero to me, too. What a wonderful dog – may he rest in peace. Thanks for the article. As my own dogs grow older this is very helpful 🙂

    • Marsha Roberts

      Christoph, I’ve enjoyed your postings of the photos of your dogs – obviously a part of your family and your heart. Writing this article reminded me of so many more extraordinary lessons I learned from my dogs, there will be more to come! Thanks for being here, Christoph.

  3. Claude Forthomme

    Marsha, what a beautiful evocation of your beloved and superbly smart dog. Thanks for sharing! We’ve had many dogs in our family too so I fully understand how you feel about your dog. I have some great dog stories as well, but the last dog we had – a lovely black cocker spaniel – died some twenty years in atrocious pain, he had been poisoned by hunters lurking in the neighborhood, nasty people who couldn’t stand the way he barked at them when they got near our garden. They fed him poisoned meat balls.

    With help from the wonderful vet we had at the time, we tried everything to save him but nothing worked. It took him three days to die, his heart gave out. My husband and I will never forget those days and I’m sure neither will my children, especially my son who was very close to that dog. That catastrophic event marked the end of our dog-owning days…

    • Marsha Roberts

      Claude, what a heartbreaking story. It is hard to wrap our heads around someone actions that are so cruel.
      As far as the end of your dog owning days, the same thing happened to my dad years ago. We had several dogs in my childhood, but after all us girls were grown, the last big ‘ole mutt of a sweet dog lived to be very old. When he passed, it broke my dad’s heart and he said, “That’s it for me. I can’t go through the loss of another dog.” Which I totally understood.
      For years Bob and I lived next door to a lovely older couple who were also dog lovers. When Zack passed she said something I’ll never forget: “I’ve always thought that it’s an extraordinary thing that we as humans take into our hearts and our lives these sweet creatures when we know that more than likely we’ll outlive them and we will mourn for them. I think it says something very fine about mankind.”
      I had never thought of it quite like that. As for me, I can’t imagine a life without a dog by my side…
      Thanks so much for sharing Claude.

  4. Sarah (S.R.) Mallery

    Great article, Marsha! Being a cat person (My bad?), I can also say the same for our cats, who curl up next to us at every conceivable moment in Kliban positions….they, too, have the Life of Riley!

    Thanks for sharing and giving us not only your poignant doggie story but for reminding us of how much animals provide us with love…and become definite parts of our families.

    • Marsha Roberts

      Sarah, I guess I’ll have to overlook you being a cat person because you are such a dear otherwise! LOL! My sister is a true cat gal and she’s had quite a few ?I’ve become very fond of. The only kind of cats that bug me are the snobby ones. If they are loving, I’m all for it! Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.

  5. Sue Ranscht

    Having been a cat person since I was a young child terrified of barking, teeth-baring, unpredictable dogs, it came as a heart-warming surprise to me to fall in love with the dogs my son adopted after he moved out on his own. Now I think of myself as a cat-and-dog person.

    Every cat I’ve cared for over the last 40 years (except the first one, who was killed by a shoot-from-the-hip vet — a painful, life-changing story for another time) has reached out at the end of its life. I have been privileged to hold them and let them know they’re loved and not alone at the moment they breathed their last. It certainly does teach lessons about how to live.

    Thanks for sharing Zack.

    • Marsha Roberts

      Sue, thanks so much for sharing your experiences with your cats. I often tease about being a “dog person” as opposed to a “cat person,” but of course, it’s all about love. I have a sister who had a horse for about 20 years that was as affectionate as any dog or cat. It’s really about connections, isn’t it? We find a little spirit we feel a connection with and it’s amazing the level of dedication, commitment and love that we can experience. A beautiful thing. Life!
      Again, thank you for being here with us, Sue.
      Ms. Marsha

  6. Carolyn Injoy

    Thank you, Marsha for letting me know about this beautiful tribute to your treasured Zack. His puppy hockey sounds delightful. It must have been a joy to watch. The picture of you holding him is a great shot, your smile is great.

    I’m an animal lover. My daughter is an animal rescuer. I’m glad to have passed along this trait.

    We’ve had awesome pets. The saddest was one of our Rottweilers, named Miracle who died of cancer at only two years.

    Her litter-mate Angel lived for 11 years. To this day I believe that Angel took the killing stroke. I was having TIA’s for the prior year. It might sound odd, but I think she offered her life on my behalf.

    At the time we had the Rotties we also had a nasty, mean little Chihuahua named Napoleon that bossed those girls around relentlessly. He made it to seventeen & it was truly like having a family member die. He was toothless, blind & deaf but his spirit more than compensated. The ferocious fellow tried to bite the vet the last time we took him there.

    I would not allow another dog into my heart for eight years. Now we have the beautiful bullmastiff Miss Precious. At 150 pounds she appears frightening, but is a gentle giant. She’s eight now & slowing down a lot. We’ve said she might be our last dog. That’s a hard thought to have but we don’t want to leave one behind. We pamper & coddle her & meet her every need. I rarely allow her in our bed because of her size. When I’ve been ill, she has crept up next to me to give me comfort. Last year when I had twelve long weeks of being bed ridden, she was a life saver.

    Thank you for sharing about Zack & I may have to have a box of tissues handy to read about your little Smoke.

    • Marsha Roberts

      For some reason I didn’t see your comment when you first posted it, so I’m a bit late in commenting.
      How very touching, the stories of your dogs. And I can totally understand that you believe that Angel took “your killing stroke” ~ that she gave her life for you. I’ve heard similar stories and I can completely grasp that concept. There is a reason that dogs are the animals that can be trained to find the injured and the dead at a disaster site and how they can be trained as Service Dogs, to see to the every need of their owner, their friend. We are blessed indeed to have them here sharing our lives.
      Best to you and yours,

  7. Chris Rose

    Great post, Marsha.

    Funny, I’ve read a few posts about dogs this week, by pure coincidence – I think; could it be something deeper? And I think everyone would agree that they make us happier through their loyalty and caring natures – and their natural instincts when something is wrong. But also, I had to laugh reading about Zack playing ‘sport’.

    A friend of mine in France had a big Alsatian, which used to play in the yard, outside the big glass doors. Whenever my friend wasn’t around – say she’d gone into the kitchen to make a coffee or something – the dog would pick a stick up with its mouth and tap it on the window, and actually wink at me, to go out and throw said stick so he could chase it… I used to try and resist but always give in…

    Great stuff. Sure Zack’s happy 🙂

    • Marsha Roberts

      That’s such a cute story about your friend’s dog who would give you such clear instructions that it was time for you to come out and play! Aren’t you glad you did?
      Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing a story!

  8. Barbara A Martin

    Oh, Marsha. I can barely write for the tears in my eyes. I’ve been mightily blessed over the years to have a number of dogs to keep me going. They are truly a gift from God. Wonderful post, thank you.

  9. Marsha Roberts

    I appreciate you letting me know that my story brought you to tears. Tears are such a connection between people. As a writer, it touches me to know that I touched you!
    God bless you and your dogs,

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