This photo made possible …a tribute to my friend and dog trainer!

When you’ve moved as often as I have, you accept that “goodbyes” are a part of life, but that doesn’t make them any easier.

I met my friend Beth about 8 or 9 years ago when I signed up for a dog obedience class.

You see, I had THREE dogs and it was a bit overwhelming. No one ever starts out saying, “I want three dogs”. It’s one of those things that just sort of happens.

Maddy (a beagle mix) found me via my mother. She turned up out at a rural church where my mom worked as a secretary. I went out to have lunch with my mom one day and, knowing there was a stray dog on the premises, did my absolute best not to look down on my way from the car into the church. I was successful!

But as I was opening my car door to leave, I felt something brush against my leg… and I looked down. And that was that. There were these big, soft brown eyes looking up into mine and – long story short, we belonged to each other.

Maddy started off timid and afraid of everything. She was about 1 year old and had clearly been kicked and mistreated by humans and perhaps attacked and chased by other dogs. When walking her on a leash, I had to carry her past dogs barking from their side of the fence.

That didn’t last very long. Once she realized she now had a “pack”, she turned into a bit of a bully. Of the three I now have, she rules the roost.

It was about five years after Maddy came into my life that I sort of acquired the other two: Dottie and Claire.

My sister and I were walking our two dogs one night at the nearby park when we spotted some strange shapes moving around in the parking lot. On closer inspection, we realized that it was five puppies someone had dumped out and left to fend for themselves. It was January, and temperatures were already dropping to freezing and only getting colder.

So, of course, we rounded them all up and took them home. Again, long story short, two of them ended up becoming permanent members of my family!

At the point this narrative begins, Dottie and Claire were now 2 years old, about 60 pounds each and a whole lot for one person to handle! Claire, little Miss Personality, was boisterous and outgoing. Dottie, the runt of the litter, was so crippled by fear she could barely function outside of the safety of the house and yard.

I needed help. And that’s when I discovered that the local technical college had basic dog training on their current schedule.

I signed up! I chose Claire as my guinea pig. She was the most social and laid back of the bunch, so I was hopeful that she would be the one least likely to make me look like a bad dog parent. I was right. She was a model student.

Beth is a great teacher and Claire not only went through basic, but also manners class and a class for therapy dogs. Beth also helped me in my own home, working with Dottie to build confidence and bring her out of her shell.

And throughout this process Beth and I became more than trainer and client, we became friends!

I’m so grateful for her in both these important roles that she has played in my life. Life with my three dogs improved dramatically with her help. She taught me how to train them and she worked with me and with them and I can never thank her enough!

Over the years, her friendship and encouragement have also meant the world to me.

So, when she told me last week that her house had sold and it was official – she was moving. It hit me hard. I hate “goodbyes”, even though I know they’re necessary… I still hate them.

That’s one of the reasons that I can’t agree when I hear people slamming social media for causing people to become more isolated or for keeping people from having real connections with others.

I love that Facebook has enabled me to stay connected or to reconnect with people that I’ve had to say “goodbye” to over the years. I love that I can watch their kids grow up through pictures, or celebrate joyous moments, or laugh at the mundane, or grieve together over losses.

I love that in many ways it takes those “goodbyes” and makes them a little more like “see ya later”. No, it’s not the same as time spent face to face, but it sure beats losing touch altogether!

*The featured photo for this story was made possible only through the hard work and dedication of an excellent dog trainer and an even better friend! (They are actually all three in a down stay long enough for a photo!) We are all going to miss you, Beth! “See ya later!!!”

 

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