Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Family Pet (05/15/08)
By Arlene Showalter
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The mere mention of her name brings an exasperated smile to my lips. Never did I love/hate a dog as I did Sally.
She came into my life due to a clever ad: “fine lady has affair with local mutt.” Purebred English Spaniel Mom spurned quality males of her own kind for a quick fling with the neighbor pooch.
Sally was all white with black covering both ears and eyes. In the middle of her forehead sat one large black patch which came to be known as her ornery spot. And ornery she was. Disobedient, hard-headed and fun.
Six months into this love/hate relationship I decided to get another puppy and then find Sally another home. She suddenly developed the ability to read minds because within two days of acquiring a German Shepherd pup she learned the art of listening. Now I had two dogs.
I came home one night and reached over to pet Sally on the chest. She screamed in pain. Frantic, I called a vet who took calls 24/7. The vet advised bringing her in the next morning. Miraculously, at the appointed time the pain disappeared.
A few weeks later the same thing happened. This time I didn’t bother to call the vet, just waited until morning. Again, the pain vanished.
The third time it happened I was finally onto Sally’s tricks. At her first screech of pain, I grabbed her snout, shook it slightly and stared into her eyes. “Don’t you ever do that again” I ordered. Guess what. In 16 years, she never had another chest pain.
Sally loved the water. I lived on the Ohio River. I tossed sticks as far as possible and she always retrieved them. Once, when my mother visited, she said worriedly “aren’t you afraid she’ll swim too far out and be carried away by the current?”
“That’s the plan” I returned.
At 14, Sally suffered a serious, debilitating stroke. She couldn’t eat, drink or walk. I called our vet, who advised “Give her three days. If she hasn’t responded by then, I will come over and put her down for you.” You guessed it. On the third day, just as the vet stepped foot into my yard, Sally staggered to her feet. She wasn’t going out yet.
Sally lived on another 2 years after the stroke, but from that day forth her body leaned to the right while walking. Being of the conservative persuasion, I was deeply grateful. A dog that leaned to the left would have been a heavy burden indeed.
The day Sally died a part of me died too. Many years and numerous dogs later, she still stands out as the Irreplaceable One.
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