Patricia McConnell’s dog Lassie passed away today.  Dr. McConnell has been an inspiration to me for 13 years, ever since I fell in love with her call-in pet behavior help show on Animal Planet.  She is the reason I first wanted to do what I do now, and was instrumental in my transition from traditional force-based dog training to the ethical reward-based training I now practice.  Lassie, a border collie, made it to 16, and I feel like I knew her, since she was so young when I first began following Trisha’s work.  Her loss is a great one, and in her blog Trisha encouraged us all to write about our own beloved dogs, summing up their lives in just six words.  Of Lassie, Trisha wrote, “French vanilla. Ice cream. Summer day,” making it clear to her readers how much richness Lassie brought to her life.  How sweet she was, how refreshing.

Here’s my six for the dogs I’ve lost: 

My most recent loss was Reece, my doberman.  Her six words go something like this: “Michevious red beauty. Loud belly laughter.”

My first dog was Rodchester, my shepherd cross, my childhood best friend.  His is more like this: “Patient leader, loyal protector, silent guide.” 

Brillo, the little schnauzer mutt that people are shocked I had, would be like this: “She ran the joint, every day.” 

Duffy, the short-lived heartbreaker, looks like this: “Tragic catalyst for a life uncommon.”   

I won’t write six words for Kelso or Idgie, because that (long, far-off, super super far away) day hasn’t come yet.  But I will say this (because whenever someone loses a great dog I find it necessary to get a little sappy); Kelso and I only grow closer as we grow together, and my gratitude for him is never-ending.  He is the reason I lost Duffy so soon, and he is worth it.  Idgie is my muse and my laughter, every single day.  She brings so much zest to everything she does it’s contagious. 

Love your dogs today, every one of them is a gift.