Toni Mitt's tale of the cocker spaniels who taught her about the joys of having dogs in her life:
My husband and I got our first dog from a shelter in Illinois called Orphans of the Storm. We went down there on a Sunday, and found this poor little scared cocker spaniel that had been found wandering in a neighboring forest preserve. She was a beautiful buff color, and was cowering in the pen that she shared with a very gregarious beagle. We took her out into the yard, and were surprised at how proudly she walked on a leash. We think she was being groomed as a show dog, but for some reason was just dumped in the woods. Since she had just been found a few days before, we had to wait until the following Wednesday to adopt her. What torture!
Wednesday came, and I drove down with my daughter, Erika, who was in high school at the time. The gate was closed, as we had gotten there a few minutes early, and I spotted another car with several kids in it, also waiting for the place to open. I got a funny feeling in my gut, and I knew they were there for the same dog. When they opened the gate, I literally shoved Erika out of the car and told her to RUN to the door and tell them we want the cocker spaniel. I was right—one of the kids from the other car got to the door a second after Erika, and they, indeed, also wanted the spaniel. *Whew*
We named our new dog Gracie, after Gracie Allen, to honor her husband, George Burns, who had died just a few weeks before. Gracie was around 18 months old when we got her. She had a few health problems and went blind in about her 9th year, but she taught me a lot about second chances. She was a great dog and was loved and spoiled until she was 13.
Because of her, we bought another cocker spaniel from a puppy store when Gracie was around 5 years old. Beau, a stocky, playful sport spaniel, took over as the top dog in the house. He was a great help to Gracie when she went blind, leading her around the house and down the stairs to get out the door. I learned all about dogs from Gracie. I had never had one before, and I was surprised at their diverse personalities. Just like children!
Gracie had been gone a couple years, and Beau, who had a case of doggie glaucoma in both eyes, is now the old blind dog of the household. So, last September, we decided to get another rescue dog. We found our second buff cocker spaniel from Canine Rescues in Illinois. He had just gotten to his foster house on a Friday, and we picked him up on Saturday afternoon. He was about 11 weeks old, and just a little pistol.
We named him Georgie, again to honor George Burns, and he is now 8 months old. We've started puppy school this week, and he, of course, is the problem child of the class. But I love him to death and he'll have a long and happy life with our family.
New Beginnings Sunday is a weekly series featuring the story of a rescued pet and the ways in which the life of the animal and person has changed. This series will run through the end of 2009 in conjunction with Breaking Traditions Art Quilt Exhibit’s fundraising efforts for Bernie Berlin’s animal shelter, “A Place to Bark.”
**If you have a story that you would like to share, please email it along with a picture or two of your pet to BreakingTraditions@earthlink.net