terça-feira, 22 de fevereiro de 2011

Pawprints in the heart

Like people, some dogs come and go, and some leave permanent footprints in our hearts. Through the several dogs I've had, worked with or lived with, I am fortunate enough to have had 3 I can call "dogs of a lifetime" - dogs that, due to particular circunstances, I've created a very special bond with, and vice-versa... As someone said - it gets easier , it doesn't get better!...

(And for those who think that breeders only like dogs that do well in shows or breeding... Top was a stray we picked up from the street, Nikko came from a backyard breeder, had no papers, incorrect coat, a temperament that left much to be desired and was never bred from and Leão wasn't even mine! Breeders are people too!)


Top was my first dog. As I used to say, he was a “90% Smooth Haired Dachshund” – too much like a Doxie to be a mutt or a cross-bred, too bad to be a pure-bred! ;)
He was found on the streets on December 27, 1985. No one claimed him back, despite our efforts to find his owners, so we ended up keeping him. He came into my life at a very complicated phase for my family and was my companion during the most important phase of my growth. And he influenced decisively my personal and professional life. It was thanks to him that I acquired my passion for dogs, that I chose my work (well, after I decided I did not have the guts to be a vet), that I chose “my” breed – the Dachshund is and always will be my first and last breed.
He was probably one of the most famous dogs in Oeiras, the town I grew up in, at a time when dogs could still walk free on the streets. Actually, at the time I was known as “teacher Margarida’s daughter”, “Paula’s sister” or… “Top’s owner” :)
And even if he died so long ago, the void he left in my heart is still unfilled…


If Top was my company in what I consider the most important phase of my growth, Nikko was mine as I entered adulthood. He went with me through 4 different homes, shared the best and worst moments of my life, taught me the joy of training dogs and the differences in motivation caused by different methods, When he wanted, he sure knew how to be a brat, and would grumble when he did not want something (specially after he was run over by a car and broke his hip), but he soon learned to comfort me when I was down – it was difficult to be sad with him fooling around! Until the end he was an eternal puppy, and nothing would make him happier than playing with balls, of all possible sizes.
You left too soon Nikko…


I only knew Leão as an adult, or rather, as he was leaving his adolescence, at 1.5 years., when he was taken back by his breeder. We clicked since day one! He came highly suspicious of people and afraid of men, and for about one year I was virtually the only person with whom he was able to relax. Which helped in us creating a very special relation, he was the type of dog who knew what I wanted and felt, and reacted accordingly, without me saying anything. He taught me a lot about the relationship between people and dogs and about inter-dog behavior. He was the dog that we took to schools and TV in divulgation activities, who we’d let loose among children, and the same dog was a formidable farm guard. He was the dog that could be with several other dogs, males and females, adults and juveniles, without any problems, capable of disciplining youngsters without aggression – if you didn’t know what to look for, you’d only see dogs playing, if you knew what you were seeing, you could see all the discipline signs in the necessary degree and nothing further.
But above all, and despite having a different owner, we both knew he was “my” dog…

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