My Years in Dogs

my years in dogs

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I LOVE DOGS! Chances are, if you’ve been following my blog or my social media, then you do too! What a great relationship we have with our beloved canines. They’re always happy to see us, always ready for the next thing, and just genuinely living in the moment and happy to be alive! We could take a cue from them to lighten up and enjoy the moment once in a while.

Image Credit Henck van Bilsen

I’ve owned dogs for most of my years on the planet. There was one unfortunate span of time from 2006-2008 where we lived a sad, lonely existence in a depressing apartment with no dog. Of my time on this planet, those were the only 2 years I haven’t enjoyed the company of a canine or two. Following are all of my years in dogs.

My Years in Dogs

Auggie Doggie and Hazel Megan

These two came together. A package deal. A momma and her puppies. I was four years old. I vaguely remember seeing a forlorn looking dog sitting in front of our small town grocery store. My mom claims I said, “That dog is pregnant and needs a home.”

Auggie Doggie and her pups, Molly and Hazel Megan

Of course, we brought her home. Not long after, she gave birth to a litter of puppies. I remember my sister and I glomming on to two of the pups; mine was a golden-hazel color. The only one with that color, in a litter of black and white pups. Of course, I named her after myself. “Hazel Megan.” My sister chose one of the white puppies and named her with her own name too, “Molly.” 

Unfortunately, we could only keep one of the puppies and Hazel was chosen since she was so unique. I think that Molly is still upset to this day about not getting to keep her choice. 

Hazel enjoyed a life of bliss as only a dog in the 80s enjoyed. Dry kibble, Alpo meatcakes, leftovers, and lots of time outside. So much outside time that we left her in the yard, unsupervised, for the day. Sadly, Hazel was hit by our neighbor on the highway outside our house. I wouldn’t dream of leaving my dog outside without my supervision now. It’s funny how our approach to pet care has changed.

Hazel lived a life of good food and companionship with 3 girls.

Lucky Bruce Daniel

Lucky was the coolest! He was a straight-up shelter mutt. A couple of years and one troublesome dog had passed since the loss of Hazel. Our family was ready for a new dog. I clearly remember my mom’s instructions as my grandfather, my sister Molly, and me loaded up into the car to scope out the dogs at the local Humane Society, “ Just get a small dog. I really would prefer something small in the house.”  (now that I think of it, I’m not sure why she didn’t come except that she probably needed a break from my younger sister and me!) 

The Humane Society was cold, dingey and loud. I don’t remember any of the dogs except Lucky (then Joe). He was quietly sitting in the back of his kennel while everyone around him barked. The nice lady told us the sob story, “Oh, that’s Joe. He was found tied to a parking meter and lord almighty, today’s his last day! His time is up, and he’s such a sweet, clean dog. He never poops in his kennel. Since he’s a black dog, no one wants to adopt him. We’ve extended his time and it’s run out.” 


We were incredulous. That dog was going home with us. He wasn’t that big. The nice lady at the Humane Society told us he was a Border Collie and Lab. 

Although my mom probably was not happy about his size, Lucky ended up being her heart dog. He was the epitome of the growing-up-family-dog; loved, always playing outside with the kids. He enjoyed a string of loveseats and old sofas in our kitchen that were exclusively his. Lucky was the shelter dog that sold me on shelter dogs. He saved our family as much as we saved him. He really enjoyed his life, until almost 17!


Bella loved the snow!

Bella was Chris’ dog when we met. To this day, (I’ve been married to Chris for 16 years), I believe it was that dog who brought and kept us together!

 I had a pleasant date with an older boy. I was 18 at the time, and he was 23. The age difference scared me a bit, but I had just met someone who could buy booze for me, so that was a plus.

For some reason, I went into his house when I dropped Chris off that day. I was met by THIS DOG. She was gorgeous. I was instantly in love. 

Bella was a mix of Cocker Spaniel, Samoyed, and Golden Retriever. She looked like a curly, white Golden Retriever. Bella was so smart! A definite heart dog from meeting one. Bella was with us as I went through college, buying our first home, and when we were married in 2004, right up until the day in 2006 where I accepted my first teaching job in a different town. Bella had been sick and died in my arms that very day. It was a heartbreaking loss I will never forget.

This marked the beginning of those dark years. No dog. New town for the new job. Apartment living. The real-estate crash of the early 2000’s had just occurred, so we couldn’t sell our house. Pretty broke for a college grad with a “real job”.

In 2008, we’d had enough of trying to sell the house. If it was so tough to try living in a new town for a job, it wasn’t worth it. We really didn’t want to live in the town where that house was, but if I could get a job nearby, we could live a much happier, less financially stressed life include a dog, and live in the house while we tried to sell it. I landed a job nearby in Traverse City, where we ideally wanted to live. Back to the old house, and in with a new dog! 


Birdie was the best good girl.

Birdie was our only purebred puppy. Within weeks of moving back into our house, we were scouring the want ads in the paper. We so wanted a “Bella” dog; a golden girl, a white muffin of a sweetie.  “Golden Retriever Puppies” caught my eye in the local paper. Of course, we went to the backyard breeder. Only to “look.”

Have you ever been in a litter of 10 week old puppies? Then you know it’s the happiest place ever! We were smitten, and of course, had the cutest pup of a dog to love on. 

I clearly remember my girlfriend’s advice regarding female Goldens, “The females can be kind of bitchy. Males are the way to go. They’re dopes.”

Oh goodness no, I thought. “Not a Golden Retriever, they’re all so chill.”

Birdie was unabashedly herself and didn’t take shit from no-one! Probably the smartest dog we’ve ever owned. Birdie was gentle, LOVED everyone, especially my mom; she really was the alpha in our house. We said farewell to Birdie almost one year to the day after saying losing Franklin. She was 11, and every bit of an older, distinguished lady. I sure wish we could’ve had a few more years with her (isn’t that true of ALL of them?) 2017-18 were some tough dog years for our family.

So much for the “no dogs on the sofa rule” with these two. Birdie and Franklin, the inspiration and the “B” and “F ” in Best Friends’ Kitchen


Franklin, a real good boy.

Of course, you know Franklin. He and Birdie grew up together. We stumbled over him 8 months after we chose Birdie. He was part of some accidental garage litter. The spray painted cardboard sign, beckoning me from the road, read: “Puppies $25”. Of course I had to stop. Chris and I thought it would be fun to have 2 dogs. 

“They could be buddies,” we always said! 

I was alone, so I wasn’t about to just bring one of the puppies home. I waited patiently for Chris to arrive home from work, and suggested we go “look” at the puppies. It would be fun for Birdie to have a playmate! 

Of course, we fell in love. Who doesn’t LOVE and ADORE a puppy?! The pup we had fallen in love with, of course, was a cute little female Golden. The little girl in the house clutched that puppy like she was a golden treasure. We weren’t taking her.

Besides, we really thought a nice, submissive male puppy would be better for Birdie. I had already selected a little black puppy with brown, splotchy paws on my earlier visit. 

When Chris and I returned, he pointed to another puppy. 

“What about that big, friendly looking guy?” A roly-poly puppy lumbered over in the dirt. He was the one. 

As soon… AS SOON as we got into the car, this dog started crying. I don’t know if he stopped. We came to the conclusion that the poor pup was just too young when he left his momma. 

Anyhow, Franklin was a champ. The sweetest, most impulsive goof. Franklin had so much energy! I’ve mentioned before that Franklin was the reason I got into running. He just had to MOVE! Frank was so intense and driven that we’d have to play chuk-it for 15 minutes in the driveway prior to the afternoon walk. He’d go psycho when Randy the dinosaur or the tug toy came out. You know the look-huge, dilated, dog pupils and neurotic barking. He once barked so much while playing fetch at my dad’s house that the neighbor came out to ask them to quiet down.

Of course, Franklin ended up being the ideal dog. Perfect personality of Golden and Lab. Really goofy. Dopey like my girlfriend had mentioned about male goldens (he was a Golden/Lab). So connected to us. An unforgettable dog.

Wallace and Oliver

These two fellows are the current dogs. 2 dogs really are the way to go. Not the overwhelm of three, and they can keep each other company when we’re at work during the day. 

After the loss of Franklin, we were heartbroken. A couple of months, and we were browsing Petfinder ogling black lab mixes. Because, you know, if the dog looks like the old one, he might act that way too…(btw, this is rarely ever true. They all have their own personalities, and they’re all fabulous!)

In our searches, we stumbled over a cute little puppy. He was at the Humane Society in Petoskey, about an hour and a half north of us. We called and asked them to please set “Ennis” aside so we could come and meet him. 

Upon our arrival, we were escorted to a small room to meet the puppy. A pleasant woman approached us, took our credit card, came back with a receipt. Before we knew it, we had paid for the puppy! We asked if we could meet him. 

The attendant was genuinely shocked, “Oh goodness, we thought you met him already!”

She left and returned with a scrappy-looking, skinny, nervous, pointy-eared fella. We fawned over the puppy, because, PUPPIES! I scrutinized him. 

Wally, shortly after moving in to our home. It took us a long time to adapt to one another. Wally is a champion heart-dog now.

“Chris, I don’t think this is the dog we picked online”.

Sure enough, he wasn’t. He was the brother of the female we had picked. They were mixed up! We really wanted a male, so we figured, we paid for him, may as well take him home and see how it goes! Birdie sure didn’t like him, but you know how adaptive dogs are. She eventually “tolerated” him. 

Wally is a Hurricane Harvey rescue. A group of puppies had been transported from TX to MI to escape the fate of an overcrowded, high kill shelter. We think he’s a Whippador, which is the COOLEST breed, and a genuine gift to stumble upon.  

Wally was a weirdo for a year or so. We were sure he’d run away from us  from the way he’d look at us with those crazy dog eyes, and just take off! I think that Wally loves me enough now not to run away, but it did take some time. At this moment, he’s curled up on the bed in my office, watching intently as I work. I’m pretty sure he loves me enough to stick around!


Wally and Oliver, Best Friends’ Kitchen testers.

Wally’s BFF. Oliver was our broken-hearted Petfinder stumble several months after losing Birdie. Of course, we’re attracted to a certain looking dog-Golden Retriever-ish or Lab-ish.

 Browsing Petfinder, Chris found a young Goldendoodle. He’d been purchased by an older couple after losing their beloved Goldendoodle at an elderly age. Of course, a puppy is a different ballgame than a senior dog. They realized they couldn’t provide the kind of action and activity he craved. It was wise of them to release him to a rescue, because we lucked out, and big Oliver is living his best life! 

Oliver is a big, gentle sweetie. I’m reminded of “Dug” from the movie, “UP.” If Oliver could talk, he’d say, “I don’t know you, but I love you!”

Oliver is a big, sweet doofus. He’s got the looks, so he doesn’t need all the smarts! In all honesty, Oliver is the sweetest and most sensitive dog. He’s calm, has never been destructive in the house, and is a pretty good running buddy.

 I adore having him and Wallace as my canine companions at this point in my life. They’re both calm, steadfast friends. During quarantine and now, they  provide me with entertainment, they force me to get outside and just move, and they both have those warm, open dog-hearts. I am so grateful. 

I believe with my whole heart, and stand by this assessment; even though our dogs break our hearts when they leave us, I will always hold a cozy home and open heart for a new dog. It may take some time to fall in love with that new best friend. I affirm that there are so many deserving dogs out there that would genuinely fall in love with you and fit right into your home and your heart. My years in dogs have been wonderful. I look forward to many more.

What about your dog history? Share your favorite doggos, past and present, in the comments! I’d love to see them!

2 thoughts on “My Years in Dogs”

  1. When I was 13, we lived on a farm in Mid-Michigan. My dad loved to go to auctions and we always had to . While I was entertaining myself. I stumbled upon this litter of German shepherd/collie mix puppies. All of them malnourished. As the farmer had passed, so no one was really caring for the farm dog. The sign said free. I convinced my dad we needed at least one (I wanted all of them). He agreed. I chose the blond beauty with a mean black face. She had rickets so I had to get a huge tablet in her every day. Over time, Heidi became my dog. She loved to chase cars and one day it got the best of her, dislocating her hips. I cared for her during her recovery and she was mine. If someone raised a voice toward me, she’d tear off after them. When we took walks in our endless fields, she’d walk circles around me, protecting me. While she looked mean, she was the sweetest girl ever. Finally, her vice of chasing cars got the best of her and it took a very long time to let her go! Perhaps that’s why my current dog, Lucy, is a blondy too. Although, she’s not a German shepherd/collie, in fact the opposite, a maltipoo, she has the same beautiful heart! I can’t imagine my life without a dog in it ever again!

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