A few days ago I went out front to do some chores and I noticed a young mother pushing her child in a stroller. But what caught my eye was that she also had a dog on a leash. I was sure it was a Boston Terrier, my favorite dog. I called out to her and asked if her dog was a Boston. She replied that it was and that his name was Norman. When I told her that I had had two Bostons in my life she unhooked the dog and let him run to me. At first he was just glad to be free and he ran all around. But then he settled down and came over to me. It was a special pleasure to talk to him and rub his neck as I had so often done in the past with my Bostons. She told me how much they loved Norman and how he was so smart and easy to train. I fully understood and agreed. During my life I have had four dogs. I was only one or two when I had my first one - I'm not even sure what kind he was (small and white) but I think his name was Penny. About all that I remember is that I saw him run in front of a car and get killed while I stood and watched. I can still picture that moment. I never really talked to my parents about Penny and now I wish that I knew more about him. My mother's brother raised Bostons and that is how we got our second dog, my first Boston, Frisky. I remember quite a bit more about him since I was probably in first or second grade. When we lived on the campus of Elizabethtown College Frisky had plenty of room to run but when we moved into Lancaster we first lived in an upstairs city apartment. Maybe that is why my parents decided to give Frisky away. We gave him to some friends who lived on Mile Hill in Sunbury. And I understand that he eventually was killed by a car near their house. Those two dog experiences were enough for my parents. Many years later, after we had our boys, a friend gave us a Kerry Blue Terrier, named Peanuts. He was a show dog who had been raised by a bachelor. And maybe that is why he liked me and often wasn't too sure about our boys. He was a beautiful dog but you had to be very careful with him when people came to visit. In fact, one time he attacked one of our son's friends and bit through his heavy winter coat. He had a problem with tumors and we were shocked one day when Dianne took him to the vet and came back without him. The vet wanted to do more surgery and she decided, rightfully, that we didn't want to invest any more money in Peanuts. I often wander if the vet really put him to sleep or if he operated on him and sold him to somebody else. Then a few years later we got the urge once again and went to a farm to see some Bostons. We fell in love with the runt of the litter and named him Spike. Spike charmed our hearts and all of us loved him. He was intelligent and he was easy to train. He had just two problems. First, he loved to lick. But I think that habit was encouraged by some of our boys who loved his kisses. The second problem was that our mild mannered dog became a different dog when going to the vet. He began to shake as soon as we came to the vet's driveway. He would ignore the vet and we are told that he wasn't very cooperative when we put him in the kennel there. But Spike was a real part of our family and gave us all many years of good memories. Then one day he had a seizure. Later I took him out for a walk. He always stayed in our backyard but this time he got lost and wondered out front. Then he couldn't find his way back. We were all sick as we took him to the vet where we learned that all that could be done would be to give him medicine the rest of his life to calm him down. We knew that this wouldn't be the Spike we loved and with the recommendation of the vet we decided to have him put down. I just couldn't stay to watch that and walking out of that room was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I can still see him looking at me, with his sad eyes, and that thought can still bring tears to my eyes today. But Spike was our last - no more vet bills, no more messes to clean up, no more kennel expenses. Instead, everyday I look at a Boston Terrier calendar that I purchase each year. And once in awhile I have the special joy of seeing and petting another Boston, just like the Norman I met this week.
IN THE GARDEN OF MY HEART
4 days ago