My husband, The Consultant, and I were only in Fort McMurray about two weeks when the text message from Princess came to my cell phone –
“Let’s Skype. We have something to show you.”
As I read the message out loud, The Consultant and I nodded at each other. We knew what this meant as our memories flashed back fourteen years to a summer morning at the lake. It was my daughter, Princess’s seventh birthday and The Consultant and I were not yet out of bed when she called us.
“Mom. Dad. Come outside. We have something to show you.”
I knew she and her brother had a dog out there and I did not want a dog. I didn’t want years committed to cleaning up poop, sweeping up dog hair, replacing chewed shoes, lugging huge bags of dog food home from the grocery store, finding doggy daycare, nor walking the damn pet on a frigid winter day. That is until I met our Stanley.
He had been presented to my kids by a well-meaning neighbour who rescued him from the side of the 1A highway, near Morley, with hopes that he could become part of our family. By the time we arrived at the lake, he was cleaned up, fed and ready for presentation.
“Your kids need a dog,” he offered, smiling as he wandered off.
Stanley was already about 8 months old and was, at best guess, a Shepherd, Shiba Inu cross. He was handsome with a black and white furry chest and the little white markings above his eyes that made him look awake even while sleeping. He was attached to Princess, instantly and began working his people-pleasing charms from the moment he ran up on the front deck. I was caught at a weak moment. Considering that I wouldn’t have to deal with the dreaded puppy stage, I relented and Stanley traveled home to the city with us that weekend. We had made the “pet or no pet before the kids get any older” decision once and for all.
Well, anyone who knows our family knew our “Best Dog Ever”, Stanley. He was more than a dog. He was an unconditional friend and a teacher of life.
When we left him in the yard alone for the first time we found, upon our return, his rope chewed in two with him sleeping beside it. We learned our first lesson which was the “You aren’t going to be tying me up to a tree. You be loyal to me and I’ll be loyal to you” lesson. He had officially adopted us as his pack.
During his thirteen years with us, Stanley taught us, at least, these ten additional lessons:
- Each and every trip to a familiar and favorite place is exciting.
- It doesn’t matter what seat you get in the car as long as you get to take the ride.
- Your people are your most important asset.
- Show your family you appreciate them.
- Following is fine but the real thrill is to run ahead of the pack.
- It is important to smile every day.
- Home is the best place to share a meal.
- Always pause a few moments to enjoy a spectacular view.
- It is okay to be smart and be proud of it.
- Pate is a real treat!
For someone who didn’t want a dog, I was surprised by the many ways Stanley enriched my life. My attachment was to his real beauty, inside and out.
His passing on June 1st, 2011 has left me missing our morning greeting. I still look out the window planning to see him looking back at me then racing to the door so we can have a little scratch between the eyes, a lick on the hand, a rub on the chest, a head-butt to the backside. He was as important to me as I was to him.
With Stanley still on my mind, I wandered over to my laptop to connect with the kids. Sure enough, I was being introduced to the new puppy, Winston, an Australian Kelpie and Australian Shepherd cross. Well, I didn’t want a dog then…
Welcome Winston. I am sure we will become great friends.