I know, it’s mushy, but I don’t care. Here is a Valentine to each of my dogs, followed, I hope, by lots and lots from you to your own dogs. Every morning, I will read them while drinking my tea. Tootsie and Maggie will be cuddled with me on the couch and Willie will warm my feet. I will read your Valentines and smile and laugh and get soggy eyes more often than I want to admit.
(I write more about love and dogs in The Other End of the Leash and For the Love of A Dog, but here are my Valentines to the dogs I have now:)
Willie, with thanks to Elizabeth Barret Browning:
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, except when you slam into me on your way to the barn. I love thee to the level of everyday’s Most quiet need, except when you won’t stop dropping a toy in my lap when I’m tired in the evening. But ah, Willie, my joyful, fearful Willie, my Silly Billy Willie Boy, I do not know how I could love you more.
To Tootsie, with thanks to George (Lord) Byron:
To Maggie, with thanks to William Shakespeare:
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Yesterday friend Kim came over with her young Tibetan Terrier, Finch, who played beautifully with Willie and Maggie and is perhaps the most photogenic dog I’ve seen in ages. Thanks Kim and Finch, what fun!
On Sunday, Jim did his magic in the kitchen and made his famous “Christmas Cookies” for Valentine’s Day. Here are some for you, with love from us both. May your week be full of love. And cookies.
Shari Goldfarb says
To my dear sweet Emma-the-Lab (age 13): you are the sweetest dog ever! When I got you I knew almost nothing about dog training, and didn’t realize exactly what “she’s a field lab” meant…but I soon found out! When you didn’t pass the therapy dog test once, then again, because of your enthusiasm and my inexperience, you brought me to something more appropriate for someone of your age and energy level: flyball! There I started meeting the wonderful dog moms and dog dads who make up so much of my world these days. That in turn led to dock diving, lure coursing, nosework, and eventually I became a better trainer and you passed the therapy dog test, which then allowed you to come to my office and see patients with me for the next eight years. Each year the customer service surveys were all full of kind references to you, with the occasional mention of your mom (i.e.: me). Now you’re retired and spend your days napping and your nights hogging my bed, with lots of slower walks and swims thrown in.
Bailey (age 10): my first border collie, my “special” rescue. You are the weirdest dog I know! You have some mighty strong and strange quirks, even for a border collie, and you sure are irritable! But you brought me to agility, and there I dwell for most of my free time. You taught me so much about becoming a team and about mutual respect and about running and thinking at the same time, which is still very difficult for me. I learned your limits and you’ve learned mine. In spite of your crabby, crabby nature, you listen to everything I ask for on the agility field, and you really seem to enjoy yourself there in a way that you can’t seem to in other settings. And now that you are moving toward retirement, I am about to learn a new sport, barn hunt, because I am clear that you are too easily irritated to do nosework. And that is fine with me.
To my new guy Jack, little Jack-Jack, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, and sometime Jackal…my second border collie, my second agility dog, much sought-after baby puppy: these last eighteen months with you have taught me a lot! How charmed I was to see you hop on the balance cushion at eight weeks, so eager to show me what you already knew! How fun and easy it is to train you, with your smarty-pants ways and your enthusiasm! How much I had to read about and learn about when I found out you were fearful of some people-monsters and dog-monsters, in spite of all that socialization we did. How hard you try to “look-at-that, and look-at-me” during our walks in the ‘hood. How I always win the FitBit competition with my friends because of our walks and hikes and agility classes and other adventures. How you and Emma-the-Lab became friends right off, but how hard you have had to work to charm Bailey into the occasional game of tug. We’ll spend Valentine’s Day trying agility for real for the first time…say a prayer for us!
All three of you have grown and stretched and tugged at my heart in ways I never thought possible! Every day is Valentine’s Day when you have dogs in your life!
Atka would just give me that look (it’s well known and often repeated around here) if I tried to “Valentine” him. Eve and Tarra, that’s a different story. Tarra would try to “steal” Eve’s and Eve would simply lick me until next Tuesday.
By the way, Valentine’s Day is a huge event around here. My wife’s mother’s family name is Valentine. So, it gets the full treatment. Although, I guess in reality, it never actually got the FULL treatment, because we didn’t include the dogs.
I’ll see what we can do about that this time around.
You, our majestic goof bucket collie- so gentle you can rarely get your toys to squeak, yet so ready for wrestling ’til exhaustion with other pups. You show every day that love need not be complicated. That joy should be accepted at face value. That it’s okay to be scared at times; it need not define you, or make you angry.
You are named after the vampire slayer, yet all you slay are the hearts of those you meet.
To my anxious girl, Daisy May – you have taught me to speak more softly, to accept your rules (loud noise outside, must go inside; no walks during hunting season; movies in the basement on Canada Day); to see past the anxiety to the funny, loving dog you are and to appreciate what a gentle soul lies within. But do stop encouraging your sister to gang up on the cats.
To our “little one”, Rosa Rugosa – you have taught us why all the expert dog trainers have Border collies rather than Bullmastiffs, but your joy at seizing life with your entire being is infectious, and even the awful orthopaedic surgeries you’ve had to submit to at your young age haven’t dimmed your cheerfulness. If only you’d stop pulling. And leave the cats alone. If they haven’t played with you in the 14 months you’ve lived with them, it’s unlikely today will be your lucky day.
To Cricket and Scout, the cats: we love your playfulness, your cuddly natures and your purrs. We’ve been told that Bullmastiffs calm down after the age of two. Maybe it’s even true. Eight months to go!
Daniel H. Antolec says
A Valentine’s Day Story.
I’m a guy who has lived with dogs for 35 years, spent five years in a dog daycare and started my own dog training business. You might think I know a lot about dogs but I am only just beginning to learn from them.
You’ve likely heard the old saw, “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks.” You know, humans are the teachers and dogs are the students. Right? Dogs just need to stop what they are doing and pay attention so they can learn something from us. Well, I prefer to imagine what might happen if we stopped to pay attention to what our dogs are trying to teach us.
On May 29, my wife and I lost our dog Jake at 16 years, four and one-half months of life. He joined us as a spunky — sometimes crazy — young black Labrador. His youth was spent in typical Labbie enthusiasm.
Jake joyfully pursued Frisbees and balls, splashed in pools and ran off whenever he escaped his leash, which was often. Once, he chased a snowmobile for a quarter-mile. Whee!
Usually, he romped around neighboring farms, chasing deer or livestock. Jake would not come when called and seemed to delight all the more when I chased after him. Whee! Whee!
In frustration, I often found myself waving my arms like a monkey chasing the other monkey who had just stolen his banana. Jake loved a great game of chase even more than catching Frisbees. I wondered what I was going to do with this dog.
Then there was the agility class in which he kept getting into dog fights.
At times I was quite sure he was beyond training. I scratched my head and wondered what I could teach such a crazy dog, but the real issue was what he could teach me.
His recklessness led to accidents and injuries, such as when Jake walked across the path of our 1,100-pound horse while she passed through a gate. He sprawled across the ground, twice. Once, while cleaning the horse stall, Jake scooted past me to salvage the rest of the horse apples before I could hog them all… and was kicked in the head.
Thanks to Jake, our veterinarian and I became closely acquainted. By age 12 Jake had developed spinal arthritis and I came to know another vet who practiced acupuncture.
We took him to several training courses that left us with all of our original problems and frustrations.
As he aged, Jake settled into a calm snuggle bunny, still eager to play but slowing in step and no longer inclined to pursue adventures off our property. The crazy kid had become a quiet country gentleman, sporting a gray mask that covered his chin and cheeks, circling around his eyes. Every gray hair seemed to mark a day in the life of my little buddy.
In his final minutes he settled against me as I sat on the floor, his head resting in my hands as we exchanged glances and shared long heartfelt embraces. I gently stroked his gray face and serenaded him with loving words, softly spoken as I massaged him into a relaxed and peaceful state. I held his cloudy brown eyes in mine as he quietly slipped away.
My tears washed away all lingering doubt and fear. Jake knew he was well-loved and that I would take care of him to the final breath, whether his or mine.
Jake found safe haven in my heart, far from want and worry, secure in my love. I took away the pain that debilitated him, and now I carry that burden for him. It was my privilege, and my enduring sorrow, to perform a final duty for such a loving soul. Jake taught me much about patience, empathy and compassion. He rests there now with Samantha and Charlie. once day Buddha and Gandhi will join them. They are my dogs, my best friends, and my enduring Valentines.
We Americans don’t seem to deal well with death and loss and too often live in denial. Jake taught me how to love, and how to lose those I love. Jake lived joyfully in the moment. He forgave past wrongs and my human failings. Perhaps an old man can learn new tricks, after all. My dog was showing me the way all along, but being human, it was hard for me to just stop what I was doing and pay attention. On May 29, I paid attention.
Dogs joined us some 30,000 years ago. I think they came to teach the most valuable lesson in life: How to become a Human Being. If we can just stop what we are doing and pay attention to them we might just learn something.
Please honor your dogs; they have earned it.
Happy Valentines day to my Basenji Shema. I was not going to get another Basenji. Get a real dog my friends said and memories of Emma my first Basenji from pup till 13 years, then Billy Basenji the dog no one wanted. Some how Shema arrived at 2 years old now 11 years young
Thank you for your natural free spirit even though you have left me alone in the Agility ring more times than I care to remember. Thank you for going to Dog training with me even though I am sure you think it is pointless. We will go for a special Valentines Day walk and I will bake you your favourite Tuna Biscuits. Forever a Basenji Mum
To my best friend:
Steve the Magnificent Lab
as a dog is consider-bly fab.
But his tongue goes all lickity
if you’re not persnickety,
and your sandwich is lost to his grab.
Sue Schirmer says
To Tiffany Greyhound, (TiffTiff, Miss Tiff…)
You are bringing so much joy to every day – most days our morning walk is probably the best part of the day and it seems a shame having to go back and rush off to work when I’d rather be walking the downs with you – and I’m sure your reluctance to go back to the car comes from the same sentiment…
Most people talk about teaching / training their dog, but when I first got you I had the sense that I would learn a lot through you. And I did, and I’m still learning.
I learned about lead-reactivity and how to help you overcome it – and about avoiding the pesky little Jack Russell that barks at you and makes you really scared so want to run off.
After 13 years of not driving – and thinking I’d never drive again – I started to take driving lessons, just so that I could take you to your socialisation classes. Now we’re both enjoying the freedom of our own car -really it’s your car, not mine- and the possibilities of lovely walks on the downs or along the coast it gives us.
I learned about trying to teach recall to a ex-racing greyhound – and about what times I needn’t even bother because the rabbits are out and about, and you’re better kept on a long lead – like this morning when I let you off anyway (‘surely the dog needs a run’) and then had to race across the golf course checking out the various rabbit holes to find you…
And soon I’ll start to learn about TTouch, and looking forward to it. I’m sure that my learning journey with you isn’t over yet…
Not sure how I managed to live without any dog for such a long time… adopting you was one of the best decisions in the last few years!
You stare at me with those big puppy eyes, so earnest, and your tooth is caught on your lip, making it impossible to take you seriously.
You play fetch marvelously, as long as you’re carrying another toy back and forth that you don’t have to drop.
You shred everything you can with a terrier’s fervor.
You might lie down when I ask you to sit, and I reward you anyway.
You eat raisins and garlic cloves and worry us.
You zoom, and look so happy when you get to run, and it makes us happy.
You curl up and sleep with your head on my lap and I stay up too late sitting there with you.
I love you, Badger puppy.
Mike Koenig says
To Riley: (my Ultimate Heinz 57 x – RIP – 9/18/2014) – my former Co-pilot- You were my best friend and constant companion for 14 and a half years. You brought love and laughter to everyone you ever met! You learned almost everything very easily; and then occassionally you would look at me with those (blue and brown) eyes that said “…know that and …done that already!” You were a sage who was always ready, willing, and able to teach me patience! (I’m still learning, buddy – we miss you!) Our very old “Living Bonsai” bush growing in the back corner of our backyard will bloom ever more beautiful this Spring; and as we gaze upon its beautiful blossoms, we will all lovingly remember you! Thanks for being in our lives!
To Mahlee: (12 Y / 8 M – Norwegian Elkhound x Vizsla) – My (new) Co-pilot – You are a very sweet and gentle girl. You and Riley were immediately great friends after you came to live with us last June. You have adjusted very wll after losing your original owner to Alzheimer’s Disease. I can’t begin to imagine what that must have been like for you! In the eight short months that you have been here, you have showered everyone you’ve met with your charm and your friendship. It’s so wonderful to have watched you learn to play with your toys, tennis balls, all four cats, and with your new brother, Louie! I know that you may have been content to be an “only dog” after Riley left us; but I could see in your eyes that you needed another companion and playmate in your life besides your four feline siblings or me. Thanks for making the trip up to WHS Ozaukee – Saukville last November to adopt your new brother. We are all so very happy to have your happy nature, your smiling face. and your wagging body in our family!!!
To Louie: (8 Y / 4M – Border Collie x Greyhound) – My (new) Navigator – Yesterday it was just 11 short weeks since you came to live with us here at “Tip Toe Alley”. At WHS, as soon as I opened the rear sliding door to the van, and you immediately jumped into the second seat (entirely on your own!), you became our Navigator! It was so great having you and Mahlee as companions and guides as we drove south toward home on I-43, and we were then overtaken by that blizzard late last November!!! We are so lucky to have you living with us. It’s really hard to believe that this is your fourth (but last and forever!!!) home. We have started making great progress on your (officially diagnosed) Separation Anxiety issues. I can see you becoming less “Velcro” with each passing week; and you have progressed to “Elastic”. You have also gone from an “Orange” dog to a “Yellow” dog. Although there is still much for you to learn, you do learn things so quickly! It is truly amazing how genuinely close you have grown to Mahlee and the kat kritters since your arrival. WELCOME HOME!!! We are all so happy to have you with us!!!
I seem to remember reading somewhere recently that “Love Has No Age Limit” by a Dr. McConnell. In the last eight months I have twice happily discovered that to be so very, very true!!! You have to live it to find out the truth in that statement!
Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all!
Jim (and Tricia) thanks for the delicious Valentine’s Day cookies! I just have one question: how did you get the cookies and the plate to stick to the wall paneling so that you could take the picture? ;))
P.S. Louie is here with me right now and wanting to go out; and he wants to say ‘Hello’ to everyone! :))
To Our Valentine Dogos
You came to us as a stinky, scrawny pup with a fabricated past-life
But who could resist your almond eyes, Buddha belly, and white beard
As the years passed, I understood our bond born of strife
I watched your trust and playfulness overcome what you feared
Your intelligence, courage, and love is rife
You will always remain our dog revered
Haiku for Phoebe:
Contained no more Free
Peacenik, patient, hipless, red
Your tongue says it all
To my little girl Roxie..I remember the little ball of fur with the pink belly and dinosaur paws the day we brought you home from the shelter. You were to “only” be 40 pounds. Like everything you did in this world, you did big. You made it to 133 pounds. My little Mastiff mix with the human brain. This is the first Valentine’s Day without you. I miss you more than ever. I sit under your apple tree when daddy and I go up north where you loved to run. Time has not been kind in easing the pain of your passing. I know you are free of your pains. You run and frolic pain free with you brother Maxwell and sisters, the cats, Lulu and Nellie. I feel your presence each day and night. Rest well little girl…..Love you always and forever, Mama
Sweet Duchess, I love you with a love bigger than I understand. It contains your mysterious, difficult past, your comforting daily presence, your stubbornness, your daily pining, your playfulness, your silliness, your wisdom with other dogs, your late-found love of sport, and our last, horrible day together when we had to end your suffering. Every day I try to blame myself for your hard times, and every day I see your smiling face telling me I can’t. I love you forever.
And Cecil, my boy, I love you for being my naughty, busy healer. Every day you fill the hole in my heart with your joy and squireliness. Thank you for needing my guidance, thank you for accepting my help, and thank you for being my clown. Your trust is precious to me, and I will never take it for granted.
(a little heavy, I know, that’s just how it’s been lately 🙂 )
Heesun Andes says
To My Dearest Valentine Trinity,
From the first moment I saw your 3 month old baby face, and smelled your puppy popcorn feet, you wiggled your Pibble rump towards me, and I was in love. I was devastated when you almost died of parvovirus, vigilant when I chased the man in alphabet city who puppy knapped you, and heart broken when we were separated for three years. Through it all, I whispered in your beautiful floppy amstaff ears: “Mommy will always take care of you.” And “Mommy will always protect you.” I’ve kept my promise Trinity. You mean the world to me. Your special grace is your natural affinity and gentleness with children. I love you more than words can ever express, and for your sake, I save as many other pibbles from a miserable life of fighting, abuse, and destruction. For your sake, I will save them all because the soulful eyes you have, your kin has also. I cherish every moment in this life with you my best friend, my companion, my love Trinity. Now and forever, Mommy.
Nina Worthe says
With apologies to John Masefield,
We must go up to the field again, to the lonely hill and the sky,
And all I ask is a friendly pup and a lead to steer her by,
And the dust’s grind and the dawn’s song and the dewy leaves shaking,
And a bright morning on the hill’s face, and a bright dawn breaking.
We must go up to the field again, for the call of the morning lark
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a sunny day with the white clouds flying,
And the bouncing pug and the waving grass, and the guinnea fowl flying.
We must go up to the field again, to the vagrant wandering hike,
To the deer’s way and the hawk’s way, where the sun’s like a pre-warmed oven;
And all I ask is a merry smile from a laughing little pug,
And quiet spot sitting with you my dog, when the long trek’s over.
For Talos. My hiking buddy. My dancing pug. My ever smiling shedder of fur.
Happy valentines day!
With thanks to the BeeGees my Ode to Spot,
I know your eyes in the morning sun (Ohw, those soft big brown eyes.. the make me melt…)
I feel you touch me in the pouring rain (asking me if we can go home know and will I please NOT towel him dry thank you very much… )
and the moment that you wander far from me I wanna feel you in my arms again. (especially if there are any deer or livestock around… Ohw, Spot how you scared me when you ran off on holiday in Austria. Only when I howled out my misery you came running back)
And you come to me on a summer breeze
Keep me warm in your love then you softly leave
and it’s me you need to show
How deep is your love
(Spot doesn’t walk towards me, he dance-dangles. So sweet, still so gangly at almost 4 years of age on his slightly-to-long-for-his-body legs)
How deep is your love, how deep is your love?
I really mean to learn
Cause we’re living in a world of fools
Breaking us down when they all should let us be
We belong to you and me.
And I need to learn, what I can and cannot ask of you, that I need yet more casks of patience, that when you hurt me (by pulling on yout leash) you do not mean to hurt me… you just want to show where the deer and and HEY MOM, did you see that Pheasant. COOOOL, let me catch him for you…
I believe in you
You know you’re the door to my very soul.
You’re the light in my deepest darkest hour
You’re my saviour when I fall
Oh Spotteke, when I come home from work where things are NOT funny at the moment, you always make me smile. And even when I have lost my temper with you – and yes, I occasionally do – you still snuggle up to me at night.
And you may not think I care for you
When you know down inside that I really do
and it’s me you need to show
How deep is your love?
And you come to me on a summer breeze
Keep me warm in your love (and covered in your fur) then you softly leave (to chase the rabbits)
and it’s me you need to show
How deep is your love
Spot, of all the sibes I have and had, I love you most dearly. The most exasperating at times, the one that suffers most often from acute attention deficit disorder (*meaning: I need to be cuddled NOW) and the most vulnerable with your too long legs that move in such a strange way that leaves every vet and physiotherapist we consulted puzzled.
I dunno, you’re just special. The thought of loosing you, brings tears to my eyes. My dear dog companion, we will find a way to make that life of yours long, funny, fulfilling – and one day we WILL be able to have that long quiet walk in the woods. Without you pulling me in two. 🙂
O’ Mitchell – will you be my valentine?
Oh, how I love thee for all that you’ve taught me:
1) Hound-pace is as much an asset as a liability. You’ve demonstrated the benefits in taking time to get one’s bearings.
2) “Biddable” and “intelligent” are distinct traits – and after I was through being frustrated with what I perceived as lack of the first, I realized deep appreciation of the second, especially your skill in remembering how to do something after doing it correctly only a very few times.
3) We can accomplish a lot in 3-repetition training sessions.
4) Lure-coursing is probably the best sport ever – and we certainly are very appreciative of those groups who encourage any dog to participate, regardless of DNA. Watching you chase – as you were born to do – puts a huge smile on my face.
5) Your emotional connection with people who are patient enough to take the time to get to know you is amazing. Your total love of my dad, and his total love of you, is a fantastic relationship to watch grow.
6) The perfect height for a dog is the one that allows the chin to rest comfortably on the dining table – which allows the nose to sniff and the eyebrows to shift – while gazing at the delicious food – preferably a roast.
7) Squeaky toys are the best!
Ada – will you be my valentine?
How I appreciate you, miss firecracker, for the lessons I’ve learned:
1) Adopting an adult dog is the best thing ever; you made that so obvious. With you, I didn’t have to go through the chewing, jumping, housebreaking, digging, being-lonely stages. And you were happy to be in your crate! It was so amazing to adopt you that I feel like it’s a terrific secret – though I share my story with anyone who will listen, knowing there are more perfect dogs like you in shelters, waiting for someone to take them home. I still can’t figure out why anyone would give you up.
2) Life is better with a job to do – a duty to look forward to, engaging the mind.
3) Coming home to a shoe dragged to the middle of the room, with the laces a bit askew but never chewed, brings a smile to my face…as much as it’s a sign that we need a little more mental and/or physical exercise in the near future.
4) Dog-reactivity takes patience and time, and attention to all the little things that are triggers.
5) I love that I can trust you not to eat Mitchell’s food if it’s in his dish, even if I leave the room for a short time – though he does eat terribly slowly, doesn’t he?
6) A go-getter attitude and unbridled excitement doesn’t mean there won’t be moments of fear.
7) Bum-scratches are the best!
Samantha M. says
To my Sweetest of Sweethearts Jinx
Our eyes met your terrified eyes, so confused & scared at the local animal control, and never have I fallen in love so fast. One heartbeat & I knew you were mine. I was lucky you came along & rescued me as I was lost and alone in a scary place too. You know I’m sad before I do, coming to tuck your head under my chin & let me kiss your ears until the sad goes away. You showed your “dad” that little dogs have big hearts, watching you train him, (silly human thinking he’s in charge)makes me laugh out loud everyday.
My secretly Silly Buddy boo.
So serious around strangers. All work ethic & focus. Something in your background made you so reserved. I never knew a dog could have nightmares before I bought you home from the rescue. You were so careful to do nothing that might get you into trouble that first year you spent most of it hidden under a blanket. It was a year before I saw you play, another year before you’d play with us. Now my favourite time of day is when we wrestle on the bed as I try to make it, all your fears & seriousness gone, rolling & playing like a puppy, all clumsy flailing legs & puppy growls. Watching you blossom is an amazing journey that I am so lucky to be a part of.
Robin S says
To KaeJae: You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…..I sing this song to you daily because you are my best friend forever.
To KiKu: My little shee shee girl, you are my sweet snuggle buddy at bedtime and the one who can spin faster than any Chin I know. Your daily squeeks of joy make me the happiest girl in town.
To Katie: My sweet 4 1/2 pounds of love. You make so many happy with your sweet and adorable therapy dog way. I sing for you, “Kkkkkkk Katie, beautiful Katie, you’re the only ggggggirl that I adore….”
You wiggled into my broken heart and filled all the spaces with your joyful love, and for that I can never thank you enough. When you creep up onto the bed to cuddle with me in the middle of the night, and when you run, stretched out, coat gleaming in the sun without a care in the world, you make my soul smile and my heart burst to pieces with love.
You are my best friend, my everything.
My Dearest Dogs,
If I were given three wishes, I’d be tempted to use them all with you. I’d wish away your aches and pains, your allergies, and ailments. I’d wish that for approximately 15 minutes, we could all talk like old friends. (Maybe more like half hour, since I’d have to ask you to tell me about dogs. All dogs. Goose, you’d probably ask me to be more specific while Nal, you’d say, “Dogs?!? Where?” And then bounce off. And then we’d get sidetracked.) But for that short amount of time I could find out so much more, and I would know with complete certainty that you understood how much you mean to me.
When we returned to our life of barks and mmmerfs and rooos, and when I continued to thank you for all of the wonderful ways you are my friends, we would know. We would just know. Perhaps we already do…
While I await my wishes, I will continue to strive for your best possible existence. And I will try to be my very best for you. Undoubtedly, I will continue to thank you each night for being the wonderful creatures you are.
With so much love,
To My Dear, Sweet Kira; My Fuzzy Collie Valentine: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate….” More lovely, Kira, than all the days of summer. In your moments of joy you shine like the sun, pure radiance that warms my heart and touches my soul. You came to us so damaged and so afraid and withdrawn, but so lovely even then. When the light came back into your eyes, when you began to venture out, it was with such tenderness that you approached life; the tiniest touch, a feather soft lick, a tentative head laid next to my leg. You are so brave to face a world that has hurt you so much and so courageous to trust. You sparkle and shine with the beauty and grace of a 1,000 summer days. You are a miracle. Thank you, Kira, for coming to us and for letting us love you. I can’t imagine our home without your sweet, tender, softness.
To Obi, O-man, Obiwan, My sweet, silly big guy: You are a strange boy, with your fear of stink bugs and ceiling fans and the crack between the bed and the wall, your far off gaze and often bewildered expression, and your quiet, stubborn insistence that things must always be “just so.” But you are the sweetest dog on earth and your tender, gentle spirit seems almost divine at times. From quiet, shy little puppy to endlessly patient therapy dog, you have grown up! You have taught me so much along the way. You are my velvet soft lovey buddy, my best walking companion, my comforter in sadness, my calm in life’s storms (though not in actual, real storms during which you are terrified), and the source of a deep, abiding happiness. I love you with all of my heart big guy!
To Mocha, Little Dog, Lil D, Gremlin: You are my funny little Valentine. Your crazy hair tufts sticking out all over your tiny body, huge expressive eyes, endearing under bite, and the grunting pig noises when you are perturbed. The way you dance on your back legs like a circus dog and will chew only the biggest dog bones, the ones that are almost the size of your body and that you can barely drag to your bed. From the first day we met, we have been in love, you and I. You are small and tough, smart and captivating, loving and tremendously loveable. Your enthusiasm is infectious and you make me laugh every single day. Happy Valentine’s Day, small one!
I shared my Valentines & Valentine pictures of my dogs on my blog, along with a link to this post and an invitation to others to write Valentines for their dogs as well!
For Ranger who day after day lives up to his nickname of St. Ranger the Good
Thank you, thank you, thank you; for your calm steady presence, for your clear communication, for being reliable, loving, sweet, and joyful. Thank you for everything you’ve taught me about leadership and dog training and thank you for all the places you take me, for all the people you introduce me to, for all the good you do in the world. We’ll have earned our 150 therapy dog visit award soon and that’s just the visits since we started counting! Thank you for the kids that are calmer, the seniors that are happier, and the dementia sufferers who are engaged while you are there. Thank you for being the lead dog for our TDI Chapter and your patience with new dogs. Thank you for being willing to let Harry literally lean on you as he learns the ropes and thank you for knowing to give Mario the space he needs to get used to the new experiences of Therapy Dog work; thank you for understanding that each dog has different needs and how best to help them. And thank you that you have a great sense of direction and for making sure I get where I want to go, I’d be lost without you. Thank you for always knowing what I need and for all you have done to help civilize your crazy adopted sister. You are my rock.
For Finna AKA The Psycho Bitch From Hell
From the day our wonderful trainer took one look at you and gently told us that not all dogs can be rehabilitated and saved to the first time you smiled your wonderful happy grin you have been a wild wild roller coaster of a ride. But things are much better than they were in the beginning. I no longer fantasize about you getting a devastating disease that would allow me to euthanize you with a clear conscience. You’re my Lamborghini dog and every day we work to improve those dicey bakes and fine tune your steering and I’m pleased to say that you’re no longer unsafe at any speed even if we still can’t run you at your top speed yet at least you’re manageable at higher and higher speeds all the time. You remain a terrifyingly smart dog with off the charts drive. If you’d come from better beginnings and received appropriate socialization and handling you’d be an incredible dog and I continue to hope and believe that someday you might get there. You’re my work in progress and day by day you are learning and improving and the sweet dog I glimpsed at the shelter who despite her obvious terror was trying to reach out is more and more in evidence. We’ve stopped calling you Fidiot and FSBO (Pronounced Fisbo the acronym stands for For Sale By Owner) today you are Fizzy and we can more and more glimps the day when we call you Fintabulous. You continue to teach me more about dog behavior and dog training than I thought I would ever wanted to know. You have increased my knowledge and experience exponentially. You are my challenge.
For Meowzart the senior cat who does NOT like dogs.
You have been a steady presence from the beginning when we adopted a very snuggly kitten from the shelter 12 years ago and after a week you informed us that snuggling would henceforth only happen at the vet’s office the rest of the time mere petting would suffice. You have endured the insanity that prompted otherwise sane people to bring home not one but two dog monsters and you have adapted to living with them. You can deny it all you like but I’ve caught you actually curled up with Ranger. I don’t think you’re quite the dog hater you were in the beginning. Thank you for being my children’s sleeping companion and for the nights you have purred them to sleep. Now if you’d just stop pinning them in the bed when it is morning and they need to get up I would be a very grateful Mom. You are my calm.
And last but by no means least for The Great Catsby who likes dogs and knows more tricks to perform with a laptop than a whole coven of tech wizards.
Aren’t you glad you bit me when we met you at the shelter? And aren’t you glad that Mom is crazy enough to bring home the cat that bit her? You are so much fun. Your patron saint is Loki and your sire is surely Basement Cat Himself. You are mischief incarnate spiced up with much more intelligence than any cat should have. Which reminds me; please, Catsby stop opening the petfood bins. Those screw on lids are suppose to be pet proof. But I guess you never got that memo. I know how much you like looking down on us peasants from the lofty perch of your cat tree. You are elegance personified in your natty grey tuxedo but as the rip in one trouser leg attests you’re not all elegance. You freely roughhouse with the dogs who are both many times your size and you read them like the master communicator you are. I am constantly impressed by how well you have trained them. Whether you are strolling across the keyboard and casually searching for a new residence on the other side of the US or flopping across the keyboard and resetting all my defaults you are a delight. Catsby you are my clown.
Ranger, Finna, Meowzart , and The Great Catsby you make me complete and I love you all more than words can say.
And finally much love and gratitude for my husband who has put up with the chaos and insanity that ensues with all the very smart critters who share our lives.
To my Little Sheltie Ben,
Your are the heartbeat at my feet.
I will love you and take care of you forever,
My sweet Valentine dog. Lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely Lily… (with thanks and awe to the incomparable Kate Bush).
Here comes the Sunshine,
Here comes that girl of mine,
Here comes my everything,
Here’s a song that will make her grin.
Sweet kisses? three wishes?
Lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely Lily!
The most wilfull (Ball! Ball! Ball!),
The most reactive (especially around strange dogs who look like huskies, shepherds or wolves),
The most truly fantastic ears I ever did see (that flop and flap in different planes when running after her ball!)
Three wishes? (Ball. Ball. Ball),
Sweet kisses? ( on the nose when towelling her dry after a walk through the sticky, muddy fields)’
Lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely Lily!
You bring me so much joy and then you bring me,
You bring me so much joy and then you bring me,
You bring me so much joy and then you bring me,
A dead hedgehog.
You bring me so much joy and then you bring me,
A stress attack when you run off after a horse at a distance thinking it’s possibly a deer,
You bring me so much joy and then you bring me,
Sweet relief when you screech to a halt and turn back and run towards me when you realise it’s a horse.
You bring me so much joy and then you bring me,
Utter disgust when you insist on consuming all the cat poo known to man,
You bring me so much joy and then you bring me…..
My sweet, girl. How could I love you more? Not possible…..
Love your “love poems” to your pups! You would enjoy the delightful book “A Letter To My Dog”. Friend, dog-besotted person and amazing photographer Robin Layton is co-author of this sweet, tender collection of human-canine love notes. Available on Amazon, and, hopefully at your local independent bookseller!
Melissa L. says
They saw me coming. You were the “special case” at the rescue. The one with the tumor. The one with a clearly circumscribed lifespan. I only intended to foster you—I wasn’t ready to love another dog so soon after losing my ancient Shadow. But I was no match for them or you. They called me after three months to present a theoretical: what if someone else wanted to adopt you? By then, you and I knew that would never happen. And so we are almost one year in. You noodge me for a walk every morning and enjoy it as if it were your very first. When I sit down, you collapse onto me in total trust. You finally come to me when I call you. You amaze me with your brilliance and sensitivity. We are team, a pack, a pair of bitches. But I see signs–hair loss, lower energy, restlessness–and I know that this is going to be a lot harder than I thought. I love you.
Rosa Cays says
My Luna, My Lu, My sweet girl.
Thank you for crying out that day
For trusting me to get you safely ashore
And for walking me home,
Even though you were scared, exhausted.
You have changed my life, sweet girl.
Thank you for raising my levels of patience, acceptance, and tolerance.
For walking me twice a day, and for teaching me to laugh at the silliest things.
Thanks for being good to your feline sisters, even though they refuse to play with you.
Most of all, sweet Lu, thank you for the purest love I’ll ever know.
I love you with all my heart!
Lisbet Weir says
Tennis balls are green,
you like your bully sticks new (old bully sticks, ewww!),
Morkies are ridiculous little beasts,
And most especially you …
Cairngorm McWomble The Terrible!
I love this little man, who has turned the couple of my husband and me … into a pack of three!
Christy Paxton says
To Tawny: You put the best in best friend. I’m so glad I failed at fostering 10 years ago and kept you. I am astonished at the dog you have become, and of the human I’ve become through knowing you. I would not be the person or trainer I am now if not for you. I am stunned and overwhelmed that you, the dog who growled and snapped at people, have turned into a therapy dog for my dementia-plagued mother. You bring tears to my eyes when you lay near her and put your head on her arm, letting her fumble-pet you like it’s no big deal. My darling girl, I am humbled by you and cannot imagine life without you. All My Love…
I can’t understand why I found this so difficult. Lord knows I’ve waxed eloquent about you often enough. It suspect I’m trying not to dissolve into a weepy, sentimental puddle of goo since I still have work to do today but anything less just isn’t quite…honest.
So here goes short and (hopefully) sweet:
To Clever Otis-eus, who greets each rosy-fingered dawn with a sleepy stretch and a warm soft snuggle before bounding out to meet the day: You hold the best part of my heart. Brave and strong and a little foolish. Joyful and watchful and wise, even when you’re mistaken. Rough and gentle. Flying strides floating over the ground, warm ears draped over my feet. My magnificent boy, bargain of the century, better angel of my nature. You are all that I could have hoped for and more than I deserve.
To Sandy Bean, full of purest passions: Food and Justice valued in equal measure, Chasing and Cuddling raised to highest art. Everything you do, you do with the whole strength of your heart. You tackle the tasks asked of you with all the willingness and conviction in the world, yet somehow you also manage to ask for the things that you need with the same simple, wholehearted conviction. My helper, my conscience, my fearsome tracker, my baby seal. You teach me the value of balance and show me how it’s done. Maybe one day, I’ll learn the trick of it.
To Fiona Kitten, ever young: My friendly feral cuddlebug, you teach me to see what is, not what I expect to see. So many superlatives jostle to attach themselves to you, my comfort in the night, my fierce prowler, my furry paradox. Even in the bleak midwinter, curled and purring warmly in my arms, your fur smells of fallen leaves and freedom, of love given freely, of wildness willfully gentle, not tamed.
Susan S. says
I really love you two grey dogs. I love you not only for the considerate things you do like warming the bed on these 0º nights until we get in and ask you to go sleep on the sofa, heaven forbid. I love you not only for your silky coats & velvet ears & blue eyes, (because that would be buying into the cult of beauty). I love you most for the way you’re always trying to understand.
Mico: My sweet-tart little protector of the house, with a much bigger bark than your body. Cat-dog who wants to go out. No, you want to come in . . . no, out . . . no, in . . . no, out . . . . You keep your dainty white paws impossibly clean even in the messiest mud, but you never hesitate to take on a huge, smelly, snarling raccoon deep in a thicket of black cap bushes. So tough, but so sweet, star of your nose games classes and completely unable to hear anything when you have a scent to follow. I forget how sensitive you are until I’m sad and you push your cold nose into my lap and won’t leave me alone until I wrap my arms around you and bury my face into your warm, soft ears—even though under any other circumstances, a hug elicits a crabby growl. I love you, my little man!
Argus: named for Odysseus’ faithful hound. An apt name for the most faithful of dogs. Once a stray surviving on his own with straw-dry coat and skinny ribs sticking out, now you’re a perfectly fit, comfort-loving, dog-food-adoring, treat-soliciting snuggler, sweet brown-eyed watcher, smart as a whip and always trying to do the right thing. You’re my grey ghost, my constant companion. Inexhaustible bringer of balls (and Frisbees and soft toys and Kongs and anything else that can be tossed or kicked), the day you learned that bringing the ball back meant it got thrown again. . . what a wonderful revelation! You found your bliss with us: equal parts fetching, eating, and snuggling make your life (and ours) complete. You’re my soft and loving buddy, and I love you completely.
I’ve read every word of your sweet, funny, heart-felt Valentines, and am overwhelmed with happiness that there are so many people in the world who love their dogs as much as they deserve to be loved. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to contribute(and all to come, don’t worry, I’ll keep reading!). “Luv” and “Be Mine” candies to you all.
Hope (@love_liberate13) says
My sweet sweet Chico. My darling little black chihuahua with the wise white face. I have no idea what life would feel like now without you. We have been through so much. I was a young and foolish 25 when you came into my life, and now I am nearly 40. Thank goodness the Universe knows I need you, and seems to keep you magically young. I do know someday we will have to part for a while, at least for our time on this Earth, and I cry just imagining it, but it makes me so much more grateful for your warm sleeping little body in my lap right now. I love you because unlike some dogs, you dont always agree with me, lol.. you have a mind of your own, and are always willing to tell me when we disagree. I love you for when you still play with me, and are so silly. I love you for your way of putting your head against my body to snuggle.. even I secretly wonder whether you just know no one can resist patting you when you do that. I love you for when you race through the grass and make us all laugh and call you the black bullet! You are my one true love and I am so so grateful for the day you came into my life. Thank you for being the best friend anyone could ask for.
Hope (@love_liberate13) says
My beautiful Sachi. You are so devoted. I swear that for 11 years now, I have never gotten up to head to the bathroom alone! You are so old and feeble now in so many ways, yet you will try to play with me any moment I am willing, even if you end up falling down. There is no friend in the world as devoted as you are to me. It means all the more since I know you were a street dog before, and you know how to live wild and free, yet you choose to be so close to me. You are so unique and so gorgeous and I treasure every day you sleep peacefully next to me while I work. I love you.
Hope (@love_liberate13) says
My Lucy Lu – You came to us because some people thought you were aggressive, which is crazy, since you are the most loving gentle soul I know. Like much aggression, yours was just fear, and now you feel safe, you radiate love. Thank you for always being willing to snuggle, for how you take your young pittie energy and so humbly minimize it since all your fur siblings are elderly. Thank you for tolerating being occasionally pushed around by a chihuahua and elderly border collie, when you could stand up for yourself anytime. Thank you for always sleeping against the shower door when I shower, for understanding that I sometimes get scared when I am home alone. Thank you for not getting porcupined now for the longest time in your history…. I think its been nearly two years, lol! You are the best best pittie girl anyone could ask for and we love you more than words can say. Happy Valentines Day, my Lou!
To Freckles says
Be Mine Valentine,
For with you I have the best of times.
Whether alone, together or with family, friends both folk and canine
There’s not a chance my heart won’t dance
You’ve stolen my heart , my freckled sweetheart.
Cece H. says
The comments about beloved dogs, now deceased, brings to mind my favorite description of heaven (from British Your Dog magazine): “Heaven’s the place where all the dogs you’ve ever loved come to greet you.” Would that it were so.
Such beautiful expressions of love for your dogs. The spirit of your words mirrors my affection for my sweet, gentle friend. He was a gift to our family from my mom who has passed. After the loss of our last dog, and seeing my depression, she called my husband with a newspaper ad…”puppies available”. I know this is not the best way to acquire a dog, but thankfully we found a friend, a family member. He is always happy – whole body wiggles. He’s taught me more than I taught him. He’s a giver (okay he’s a taker too when it comes to food!) Happy Valentines Day, Ralphie! We will love you forever!
Mireille Wulf says
By the way, if anyone wonders why I didn’t include Shadow in my valentine? Well, when I mentioned it to him I got The Look http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-WDlvyJtoLCs/VOECHj-7X-I/AAAAAAAACjg/lD8FF3oSMGQ/s1600/IMG_8611.jpg
So I decided to skip him. He has me well trained..
I guess the only comment he would like would be “The best athletes run naked, eat raw meat and sleep in the snow”. 🙂
Over the weekend, we watched a movie, Tracks, about Robyn Davidson, who walked across Australia with four camels and her dog, Diggity, in the 70s. (I’d recommend both the book and the movie.)
A line from the movie really stood out for me: “The universe gave us three things to make life bearable: hope, jokes, and dogs. But the greatest of these was dogs.”
When it comes to my pup, I say…mush away! Can’t be sentimental enough when it comes to that goofball. 🙂