Tomorrow I will celebrate a birthday, spending the day as a substitute teacher in a Third Grade class.  By three o’clock, I will be so worn down, I won’t even notice another year has gone by.  Actually, spending time with kids is a great way to truly understand just like you sometimes can’t control a roomful of kids, you can’t control the passing of time.  It puts things in perspective.

I will interject here, that I think that I was destined to always seek out the company of canines.  Chinese astrologists might make something of the fact that I was born during the year of the dog, during the hours of the dog.  That definitely is a “Sirius” qualification, something not to be ignored.  My nephew, Zac, also born during a dog year shares my fondness of them.

So on this very cold winter day, I will take this opportunity to thank my parents Jack and Cindy for all they have done for me over the years.  On my tenth birthday, for instance, they succumbed to my whining ways and bought me my very own puppy, a purebred Chocolate Toy poodle.  Its AKC registered name was Princess Sheri Cocoa Puff, but just plain Coco to the family.  She was a tiny thing, definitely not cut out for life in our noisy, chaotic household.

I remember going to the breeder’s home on a cold January day and taking home that little ball of fur.  After a while, it was clear, although she was technically “my” dog, my mother did all the work, and my father received her love and adoration.

Coco survived that terrible car accident in Colorado (I wrote about it a few days ago), and while living in Boulder,  chased another dog onto a busy road and was struck by that dog after it was struck by a car (I still can’t picture that).  My father revived her in the kitchen sink.  Finally, poor Coco, at age seven, met her end in a sad incident at a family reunion.

In hindsight, a larger, more durable breed might have been a more suitable choice as our family dog.  I didn’t know that as a kid, but I am well aware of it now.

This Christmas, my brother, John, gave me a signed copy of Jon Katz’s book A Dog Year.  It was a great read, really getting across the message of how different breeds  fit into different lifestyles and the lessons they teach us when they come into our lives.  In Jon’s book, the way he contrasts life with Yellow Labs and Border collies is just perfect.  But he learned to love the special characteristics of each, and took the time, and made the sacrifices to be the best human he could be to each of them.

I’m not sure if Jon Katz is aware of National Dog Week and its mission, but I think he might appreciate the concept.

So thanks, Mom and Dad, for getting me my first dog.  It must have made a lasting impression on me, because many year later, I was bitten by the “dog bug” again, whining to my husband, Rich, for a dog.  This time around, I think we made a more educated choice, and by that time, I was grown up enough to take good care of Hooper.  And some things don’t change, I do most of the work when it comes to her care, but my husband gets the adoration!

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