postheadericon BACK TO WORK 2/26/09


As probably known by many, I served as an elementary school principal in Columbus Ohio City Schools for many, many years. While I started my career in education in high school and still hear from my first high school theatre class (four years younger than my 22 was a lot then and nothing now!), I did not want to do middle or high school sports as dog shows were even then my beginning addiction.  So after supervising the secondary reading program, I elected to go into the elementary principalship which I loved. When I started to feel burn out after 33 years and began having a few health problems, I retired and put all my efforts into the Cavalier mania traveling the world telling Al that when he needed me home, I would curtail my traveling and be home. I have always missed the principalship and really felt it was a calling; after cutting back on breeding and showing at least for now, I finally gave in to my long felt urge to return to school and have been substituting as an elementary and middle school principal in my old district. From the first moment that I walked into my first assignment, I felt that I was home.  I am working nearly every day and seem to be spending a lot of time as a middle school assistant principal as well, of course, as an elementary principal.  The problem is that middle schools start really early and this old night owl has been staying up until the wee hours and getting up at nine a.m. for quite a few years now. Rising at five a.m. is horrible!  I hate it.  Leaving the house by 6:30 a.m. every morning exposes me to a world I have seldom seen.  While others may delight in the quiet of early morning, my dogs have been conditioned to sleep in.  My poor Wendy and Snoop do not even open an eye when I leave, just snore away.  We have not done mornings in forever.  Poor Al who loves mornings does not love the very new early hours that I am keeping. 

I still cannot go to bed early and have just finished doing the dogs  before I started on the blog.  In fact, I just finished my The Royal Spaniel magazine article about legislation, what a surprise!  I am late getting to bed and will seriously pay the price in the morning. Good night for my morning wake up is less than five hours away and I am an old woman now who should know better!

postheadericon Oklahoma one more state to come under fire from Animal Rights

Please read the information below and help defeat the legislation being proposed in Oklahoma.  This week, I will feature some of the pressing anti breeding legislation cropping up in so many states.  Please be aware of what is happening in your state, city, county, or community.  Our right to own and/or breed dogs is being threatened.  Peta had announced that its members, dressed up as the KKK, would be protesting the showing of purebred dogs at Westminster.  Only a couple of the protestors showed up and were loudly booed and jeered until they retreated.  This antic by PETA only shows just how underhandedly their organization works–the KKK yet!!!

URGENT: Oklahoma Measure Would Restrict Movement of Breeders and Allow for
Unreasonable Search and Seizure 

The AKC is extremely concerned about provisions in Oklahoma House Bill 1332,
as written, and urges all Oklahoma dog fanciers, owners and breeders to
contact their representatives to express their concerns.

The AKC promotes responsible dog ownership, responsible breeding practices,
enforcement of cruelty laws, reasonable inspection programs and nuisance
regulations. However, HB 1332 does not improve the welfare of animals and
would punish fanciers, breeders and responsible owners who participate in
dog sports and/or breed in Oklahoma.

The AKC is disappointed that although the bill’s sponsor agreed to address
concerns about this measure voiced by the AKC and its federation prior to
bringing the measure to the floor, these discussions have not yet taken

Provisions of HB 1332
<>  would:

*    Duplicate existing federal laws and also require that anyone who is
a breeder, person, firm, corporation or other association that qualifies and
is certified as a breeder, dealer, animal rescue, out-of-state
dealer/breeder, shelter, or retail pet store that sells, gives away, or
transfers a cumulative total of 25 or more animals of any age in any one (1)
calendar be subject to licensure and inspections that mirror USDA standards.
This includes all animal rescue organizations that utilize foster homes if
they transfer more than 25 animals per calendar year, but excludes all

*    Stipulate that out of state breeders cannot transport animals in
Oklahoma without a state license. Although substitute bill provisions allow
for the exclusion of those who participate in dog shows and field trials, it
does not cover those who travel into Oklahoma for other dog-related events
such as training sessions, matches, hunting activities and public education
events that are not classified as a dog show or field event.

*    Require the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture to develop and
implement regulations pertaining to this bill, but does not guarantee public
input or representation from stakeholders. Experts and responsible breeders
should be consulted in the development and implementation of such

*    Provide for warrantless search and seizure by poorly-defined
enforcement personnel. The measure states, “Oklahoma Department of
Agriculture, Food and Forestry personnel and agents shall have the right to
enter the premises of an individual or facility and conduct inspections.”
The bill language does not define an “individual”.  This appears to leave
the door open for those that do not qualify to be subjected to unwarranted
searches and seizures.  The legislation should state specifically that
inspections/searches pertain to only those that are applicants and/or

*    Provide no element for public education or consumer protection and
attaches all the responsibility to breeders.  It provides no incentives for
those who follow ethical guidelines established by parent breed clubs, or
obtain health and genetic testing to ensure consumers have healthy quality
family pets. Responsible breeders follow ethics guidelines and existing
federal laws. Rather than to bring substandard kennels up to par, HB 1332
will cause them to hide from regulators, making identification and
enforcement nearly impossible.

HB 1332 continues to impose punitive measures that duplicate federal
efforts.  This bill will have a negative impact on responsible breeders with
valid USDA licenses, those that visit Oklahoma for recreation and legitimate
organizations that provide a valuable rescue services to animals.

The AKC and its federation encourage animal advocates to look for solutions
to community pet issues. However, HB 1332 as amended cannot solve the issues
of producing healthy pets for consumers and eliminating substandard breeding

What You Can Do:

*    Contact your representative in the Oklahoma General Assembly and ask
him or her to oppose HB 1332. To find out who represents you in the Oklahoma
State Legislature select the address tab found at this link.

*    For a sample letter to personalize, please see attached document.

*    For more information and tips on contacting your representative,
please view the following AKC publications:

Disagree Diplomatically, (  ) 

Make Your Contact Count (
<> pdf  ) ,

Preparing For Action ( )

postheadericon Tearjerker 2/16/09


This following was emailed to me today. It really got to me; so often we don’t think of how our behavior affects our pets. In this economy, pets are finding the times as hard as their owners.  As foreclosures happen and houses abandoned, pets also have been left locked up in empty houses with no food or water or left on chains to die.  The breed rescues are filled to capacity; the shelters are taking in so many dogs that can’t be placed and may be eventually euthanized.  My brother just found the sweetest, nicest dog abandoned on the roadside; this dog is one of the lucky ones as we will see that he finds a good home.  It is hard to imagine families being forced to give up the pets that are loved as members of the family; however, people losing houses may have to find housing that does not allow pets.  Such a sad situation for all. When you read the following, please think of your dog (or cat) and remember how dependent our pets are on us.


1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful.

2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.

3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.

4. Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainment, but I have only you.

5. Talk to me. Even if I don’t understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.

6. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.

7. Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I could hurt you, and yet, I choose not to bite you.

8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long, or my heart might be getting old or weak.

9. Please take care of me when I grow old. You too, will grow old.

10. On the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please. Never say you can’t bear to watch. Don’t make me face this alone. Everything is easier for me if you are there, because I love you so.

Take a moment today to thank God for your pets. Enjoy and take good care of them.
Life would be a much duller, less joyful experience without God’s critters.
We do not have to wait for Heaven to be surrounded by hope, love and joyfulness. It is here on earth and has four legs! 

postheadericon And now in New Hampshire!


Insanity in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire legislation is among the most restrictive  anti-hobbyist bills we have ever seen. It was presented in the House Environment and Agriculture committee today for a hearing. Dog owners were not informed of the hearing, and the results have not been made available. The legislation is scheduled to move out of committee following an executive session on February 19.

      House Bill 337 would:

      · Allow New Hampshire residents to sell only one dog or cat a year.

      · Allow a maximum of no more than two additional sales by a special
      permit, for $25 apiece. No one could receive more than two special

      · Impose fines of $50 to $200 would be imposed. All permit fee
      revenues and fines would be placed in a special fund for spaying and
      neutering pets.

      · Only large commercial kennels are exempt.(what is the definition
      and why can large kennels be approved over the hobby breeder?)

Here is a link to the actual text of the legislation:

http://www.gencourt .state.nh. us/legislation/ 2009/HB0337. html.

The American Sporting Dog Alliance is urging all New Hampshire dog owners to immediately contact each member of this committee and express strong opposition. It is critical to do this quickly, before the February 19 executive session.

Here is a link to the names of each member of the committee:

http://www.gencourt .state.nh. us/house/ committees/ committeedetails .aspx?code=H06
Clicking on a name will bring up a page with contact information for phone,surface mail, fax and email.


postheadericon CATCHING UP 2/12/09


Thank you to all who have called, emailed, or sent cards during my husband’s surgery.  Al continues to improve.  He came home Monday night and immediately began to bring in firewood from the front porch then told me to stop “harping” at him when I went ballistic.  He insists on driving which, of course, I will not let him do. He gets even by front seat passenger driving and nagging me with every turn I take until I am ready to drop him off in the middle of the interstate.   He is back to normal and I am grateful, not for the return of his curmudgeon attitude, but that he is well enough to be himself!


With the new legislative year, anti breeding legislation is cropping up in several states with more proposed bills on their way. The Animal rights activists are on the move. HSUS and PETA feel that they have an “in” with President Obama as Ophra, Peta’s person of the year, certainly does have in with our new president.  The campaign to disillusion the public from buying a purebred from a breeder and to go to a shelter to get a pet continues to invest in high end publicity.

I believe fully in giving shelter dogs a home; every dog and cat, for that matter, deserves a caring, loving home. However, the claim that purebreds have horrible health problems is one more PR tactic of the animal rights activists.  Yes, purebreds do have health problems; veterinarians can identify purebred breeds and note the problems. Some breeds tend toward specific problems. Each breed’s national breed club, such as the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, funds research for the health problems in the breed. The American Kennel Club also funds research.  Through DNA testing there are real efforts to identify the gene behind specific health problems so that those health problems may ultimately be treated or eliminated. The problem with the claim that mixed breeds do not have health problems is that statistics on their health problems are not done.  Believe me, mixed breeds do have health problems and in a later entry I will use an article that clearly outlines the purebred health vs. mixed breed health controversy.

HSUS and Peta have huge budgets for advertising, not for seeing to the actual welfare of animals, but to the “rights” of animals. Both organizations would like to see the ownership or “the enslavement” of animals ended and the guardianship of animals implemented, giving animals the same rights as humans.  I am all for humane treatment of all living beings, except for perhaps the horrible Japanese beetles that eat my roses every year, but as much as I love animals, I do not feel that they should be personified and still believe God created them to serve mankind in the many wonderful ways that they do.

The following article by Kendra Bobulsky, legislation liaison for the Golden Retriever Club of Central Ohio, compares animal rights to animal welfare and hopefully will shed some light on current developments:

I promised an article on the difference between Animal Rights, the radical anti-pet ownership movement, and Animal Welfare, where individuals fight for the health and well being of animals using grounded and intelligent means and arguments.

Animal Rights sounds like a great idea. Most of us care deeply about the safety and health of all animals. We may differ on our views of hunting, raising animals for slaughter, the use of traditional livestock management techniques such as battery cages, but no one wants to see abused, abandoned, or neglected animals hurting with no one to fight for them.

Animal Rights groups claim to fight for these animals, unfortunately they also want to eliminate hunting, meat consumption, animal breeding of any kind, and in fact, the ultimate goal of these organizations is to eliminate domesticated animal ownership entirely. They feel any use of animals, even as loved family companions, is torturing and objectifying the animals. Some organizations, such as PETA and Green Peace have, on occasion, shown their true colors, utilizing anarchist tactics to fight for Animal Rights. Thankfully the average American understands the radical nature of these groups.

Unfortunately some groups have hidden their ultimate agenda and have successfully marketed themselves as organizations that truly want to help animals and their owners. The Humane Society of The United States is the largest organization of this kind. Most Americans confuse them with local humane societies that actually rescue and re-home domesticated animals. HSUS is NOT a rescue organization. All monies going to HSUS go directly to their massive political fund, masking their true agenda in an overwhelming media campaign, manipulating caring individuals in government and across America, all the while using this ill obtained support to chip away at the rights of animal owners everywhere.

Many of the issues supported by HSUS seem well intentioned, but each political move is part of a calculated agenda that has chipped away at the rights of animal owners and we are now looking at bills that could cause irreparable damage to pure bred dog sports, including breeding restrictions, dramatically increased costs for breeders and kennel owners, collar regulations, and increased government oversight that will only hurt those of us who want to follow the rules, ignoring any problem dog owners who are supposedly the targets of these pieces of legislation.

Animal Welfare supports the animals and the owners. It uses fairness and intelligence to support rescue efforts, responsible breeding practices, and good legislation that will benefits animals and owners.

Please take the time to understand the difference. Please take the time to support Animal Welfare. Please take the time to educate others about the dramatic but hidden difference between these two movements.

The Animal Welfare Council has some more information at:

Kendra Bobulski

GRCCO Legislative Liaison.


The Sportsmen’s and Animal Owners’ Voting Alliance (SAOVA) is a nationwide, nonpartisan group of volunteers seeking to elect politicians  who will vote to protect the

The Sportsmen’s and Animal Owners’ Voting Alliance (SAOVA) is a nationwide, nonpartisan group of volunteers seeking to elect politicians who will protect the rights of sportsmen, pet owners and farmers concerned  about protecting their traditions, avocations and livelihoods from anti-hunting, anti-breeding, animal guardianship advocate.

For more information and to study the archives of this active group go to:

A SAOVA message to sportsmen, pet owners and farmers concerned  about protecting their traditions, avocations and livelihoods from anti-hunting, anti-breeding, animal guardianship advocates. Forwarding and cross posting, with attribution, encouraged.<P><HR></P>Illinois Breeder Licensing HB 198/SB 53 Call to Action

February 11, 2009

SAOVA Friends,

HB 198 was scheduled to be heard by the Business/Occupational Licenses Committee on February 10th. However, the bill was never addressed in Committee.  It will remain on the Committee’s agenda and will be rescheduled at the request of Rep. Fritchey.  The bill will devastate responsible breeding in the state and hundreds of Illinois dog breeders have already voiced their opposition to HB 198. We must continue to increase the pace until the voices of opposition number in the thousands. 

Contact for HB 198 Sponsors:

Representative Angelo Saviano (R, 77)
217-782-3374 / 217-557-7211 FAX

Representative Deborah Mell (D, 40)
217-782-8117 / 217-558-6369 FAX

Representative Jack D. Franks (D, 63)
217-782-1717 / 217-557-2118

Representative Daniel J. Burke (D, 22)
217-782-1117 / 217-782-0927 FAX

Representative Greg Harris (D, 13)
217-782-3835 / 217-557-6470 FAX

Representative Michael J. Zalewski (D, 21)
217-782-5280 / 217-557-1934

Representative Keith Farnham (D, 43)
(217) 782-8020

Representative Lou Lang (D, 16)
217-782-1252 / 217-782-9903 FAX

Representative Harry Osterman (D, 14)
217-782-8088 / 217-782-6592 FAX

Representative Sandy Cole (R, 62)
217-782-7320 / 217-782-1275 FAX

Representative Jack McGuire (D, 86)
217-782-8090 / 217-557-6465 FAX

Representative Al Riley (D, 38)
217-558-1007 / 217-557-1664 FAX

Representative Linda Chapa LaVia (D, 83)
217-558-1002 / 217-782-0927 FAX

Correction: Rep. Luis Arroyo remains a cosponsor. Contact info:
(217) 782-0480 / (217) 557-9609 FAX 

Use the form letter available for download at the SAOVA website The form letter leaves room to add a talking point of your own for personalization.  Please sign and fax the form to all Cosponsors.  Send the form to friends and family and request their help. 

Find your own Representative  and send your opposition to HB 198.
Use the link on the SAOVA website to email all Licensed Activities Committee Members at one time and oppose the Senate version, SB 53.

Join SAOVA, Illinois State Veterinary Association, Association of Illinois Pet Owners, American Sporting Dog Alliance, United Kennel Club, and the American Kennel Club in opposition to HB 198/SB53. Please send a copy of your organization’s opposition letter to or fax to 866-291-2343 to be added to the growing opposition list!

And in Oklahoma: Please take note:

February 1, 2009

HB 1332:  Pending legislation that will require that anyone who is a
breeder, person, firm, corporation or other association that qualifies and
is certified as a breeder, dealer, animal rescue, out-of-state
dealer/breeder, shelter, or retail pet store that sells, gives away, or
transfers a cumulative total of twenty-five or more animals of any age in
any one (1) calendar year directly to a consumer, co-breeder, retail pet
store, to a person for research purposes, or to any person acting as a
broker who has accepted animals for transfer to a third party and is
licensed pursuant to the Oklahoma Pet Quality Assurance and Protection

.        Includes all animal rescue organizations that utilize foster homes
if they accumulate more than 25 animals.

.        Stipulates that out of state breeders cannot transport in OK
without a state license.  Under the provisions this would include out of
state breeders that exhibit at dog/cat shows within the state of OK.[2]

.        Calls for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture to develop and
implement regulation pertaining to this bill.  There is nothing that
requires representation from stakeholders or public input.

.        The bill will duplicate federal regulations and laws already in
place.  Would it not be beneficial and fiscally responsible to support the
federal agency and help to enforce laws already in place?

.        The bill proposes to assess fees and fines as the revenue source to
implement and sustain the activities of this law.  It calls for a fund
specific to the activities of this law which opens the door for donations
from individuals and nonprofits.  The state will incur the fiscal
responsibility to ensure that funds are available.[3]  The state’s
fundraising methods are to impose higher taxes.  With the expected shortfall
in state revenue is this the time to impose more tax burden on Oklahoma’s
individuals and families?

.        Gives any peace officer the authority to enter the premises of an
individual or facility. There is nothing that states peace officers will be
trained or must be accompanied by trained personnel.  

.        This bill allows members of law enforcement to enter onto property
without cause.[4]

.        Penalties include liens against the licensee’s personal property
for failure to meet fines.

.        Responsible breeders follow ethics guidelines and existing federal
laws.  The provisions of HB 1332 will encourage substandard breeders to
burrow further underground.

.        The bill does not list an element for consumer protection.
Consumers should be educated and hold a reasonable portion of the
responsibility when purchasing pets.

Summary:  HB 1332 is a continuation of last year’s attempts to impose
punitive measures that duplicate federal efforts.  This bill will have a
negative impact on responsible breeders with valid USDA licenses, those that
visit our state for recreation and legitimate organizations that provide a
valuable rescue services to animals.  The bill will have a negative fiscal
impact on tax payers and consumers while infringing upon the rights of law
bidding Oklahomans.

While OAIA encourages animal advocates to look for solutions to community
pet issues HB 1332 as written cannot solve the issues of producing healthy
pets for consumers and eliminating substandard breeding practices.


We are in a fight for our rights to own and breed dogs. Please take note and write your Senator and Congressman about protecting our rights please. Check the proposed legislation in your community, city, county, and state and let your opinions be known.

Until next time . . .

postheadericon Update

Haven’t had time to stay updated. Al is fine at home. Busy running him back and forth to physical therapy. Will catch up as soon as possible. Thank you again for all the prayers, notes, cards and emails, I really appreciate it.

postheadericon Al continues to improve!


Al continues to improve.  He will be moving to a rehab facility which also housed his radiation treatment for the skin cancer, mycosis fungicides (sp???) which a rare cancer which goes inward if not checked. He has been undergoing radiation for three years and it is at least halted in its tracks, thank God!  He appears to have no real deficits from his brain surgery to relieve the blood clots and fresh bleeding.  However, he does need rehab for balance and his continued improvement.  He, of course, wants to come home; I don’t want him home until I know he can function well at home.  One fall and it could be disaster.  He of course is angry with me, but those who know me know that  I can hold my ground with sympathy not my strong suit when it comes to his doing what he needs to do to get well!  Anyone who knows us thinks we are the “Bickersons.”  A friend liked to say about her marriage that she and her husband fought for recreation. Al and I never fight, but my “cave man” husband argues with me all the time especially when I am after him about his health. Of, course, I am never at fault!!!  I  would love to be sweet, loving, and docile but my husband is of the old school and does not respond well to sweetness and lightness.  He says he married me for my “moxie” but which has driven him crazy all these years!  My excuse is that I am from Brooklyn with a New York attitude; my midwestern husband has never like New Yorkers but the man married me anyway! 

I have been visiting my friend Bobbi Brady, a Doberman breeder and fellow judge, as she has been in the same hospital as Al.  An urinary tract infection that she has been fighting for a month turned into a malignant tumor on her bladder which had spread to her longs.  Needless to say, this was not caught until too late. She died yesterday of heart failure due to reduced capacity of the lungs. We are all devastated as Bobbi was one of the finest people I have never known. She leaves a wonderful family who love her deeply.  I made it to Hospice where she had just been moved only a couple of minutes after she passed. The first words her husband said to me was “You have lost your partner.”  Although I have known Bobbi for forty years, it wasn’t until the last few years that we teamed up to fight anti dog and breeding legislation in Ohio. For three years we haunted the the Statehouse and were instrumental, we would like to believe, in helping defeat HB 446.  We often joked that we would be blue haired old ladies tottering around the Statehouse perpetually lost as as long as we have haunted the Statehouse, we got lost every time.  I loved her and will really miss her.

Thanks to all who have continued to pray for us; I will answer all the emails and calls when I can.  My blog is my way to keep my friends in the loop. Please say a prayer for the soul of my Bobbi. I am sure God has welcomed her with open arms as she was such a very good person.

Until next time.  Meredith

postheadericon Al doing well after surgery . . .

Thank you to all who prayed for my husband during his emergency brain surgery.  Al fell on the ice about three weeks ago and hit his head on the front walk.  OF COURSE, I wanted to take him to the emergency room and, OF COURSE, my stoic, bull headed, stubborn, hard headed (well, not really in this case),  John Wayne type husband refused.  (He, OF COURSE, will never have the opportunity to refuse to take my medical opinion again,  He may have won the battle, but he has certainly lost this war!)

After falling, Al developed a headache which lasted a couple of days, but no other symptoms until Monday this week when he told me that his left arm had suddenly gone numb.  We went to the closest ER where he had a CAT scan which showed bleeding in his brain (but at least it showed he had a brain!).  Instead of consulting with a neurosurgeon there, I had the squad take him to Riverside Hospital where my own neurosurgeon, the  brilliant and gifted  Dr. Mark Hnilica, practiced.  Al had an older blood clot, like pudding I was told, on the brain as well as fresh bleeding. Dr. Hnilica performed surgery yesterday, cleaning out the clot and stopping the bleeding.  Al was quite a long time in recovery, but when he got into the room, he was lucid, hungry, and changing from my sweet, ill, needy husband rapidly back into my beloved curmudgeon self as the first words out of his mouth were not “oh, my darling, beloved, devoted, sweet, loving wife,” but, “when do I eat?”    Dr. Hnilica was pleased with the surgery and felt that there would be no deficits.  Al will be in the hospital for about a week, but prognosis for a full recovery looks good. 

Al’s daughter Carolyn and husband Ron and children, Audrey and Darrin, as well as our dear friend Sara stayed with me during the surgery. Many thanks to friends Cindy, Nanette, and Sara for taking care of our dogs and to my niece and nephew, Annie and Eric , for taking a few dogs back to the farm to stay during this time.

Most of all, thank you for all of you who have prayed for Al and for me. Thank you to God for once more taking care of us through another medical ordeal and for answering our prayers.  God is good!

postheadericon Personal – Prayers Needed

Tonight I am at the hospital with my husband Al. He is going to have brain surgery tomorrow to relieve pressure caused by bleeding of the brain which will be addressed also.

Please say a prayer and keep us in your thoughts.

postheadericon Heartwarming Stories: Old Dogs

Please take a look at the following and get a tissue:

Then read the following and get another tissue:

Saralee Perel

Gracie, my beautiful 13-year-old shepherd/collie mix, has found her purpose.

Six years ago, when I came home from a Boston hospital after my spinal cord injury, I was wearing a huge rock-solid brace that went from my chin to the middle of my chest.

When my husband Bob helped me to our couch, Gracie hopped up to give me her usual 3 million “Yippee you’re home!” kisses. But before she landed her sloppy tongue on my face, she abruptly stopped herself upon seeing my brace
and, I believe, sensing my pain.

And in that instant, I was no longer her caregiver. I was in her care.

Ever since then, Gracie’s reason-to-be has been to watch over me.

Although she’s nearly deaf now, she feels the vibration on the floor when I get out of bed. She rouses herself from her heated doggie bed. As I head to the bathroom, she leads the way as if saying, “I’ll protect you, Mom. Just
stay behind me.” If there is anything such as a slipper in my path, she will come to a stop, turn sideways to block me, and then wait until she’s sure I’ve seen the obstacle.

Lately, I’ve been re-learning how to walk. And just recently I made my first trek to walk with her at her favorite spot – a woodland path around a pond. I used to walk there with her every day . . . before.

It was emotionally brutal seeing my old dog amble so lamely now. With her head down, she tried her best to walk a straight line, but she couldn’t.

The next day something wondrous happened. Gracie remembered her calling. Renewed as if granted a second life, she became happy and purposeful in her ever-vigilant new role as “Grand Protector of My Mom.”

If another dog jumps up to greet me, I fall. So, on that second day, a dog about 30 pounds bigger and many years younger than Gracie raced in my direction. Gracie, barking, “I’ll get him!” moved as fast as she could to shield me. She planted her old, weak body right in front of me as a barrier.

She faced the large, spirited dog. Then she barked a loud warning, “You better stay away from my mom!” The dog tried to get around her to reach me. Gracie growled, which I have not seen her do in over 10 years, “I mean it!”

The dog backed off. Gracie has taken on 4 dogs at once, to stop them from getting to me.

You see, she has shown me something I had not known before. Gracie would give up her life for me.

A verse from the song “Mr. Bojangles” haunts me.

“He spoke with tears of fifteen years
how his dog and him just traveled about.
His dog up and died.
He up and died.
After twenty years he still grieves.”

Today, I said to my wise reverend friend Connie, “Do you think that having Gracie is worth the pain of losing her?”

Connie said, “Oh yes. Your sadness is so deep only because your love is so deep. What is a life without love?”

And so, I knelt on the floor next to my Gracie. “Thank you for taking care of me – for protecting me from all of the evils you think could ever come my way.” I rubbed her bony hips and shoulders. “You have done a great job.” I kissed her golden forehead. “I will always love you.” She sighed, then fell
asleep, tired from a long day of watching over me. I whispered so as not to wake her, “You are my true friend.”

Nationally-syndicated, award-winning columnist Saralee Perel can be reached at or via her web site:

Copyright 2009 Saralee Perel. Permission is granted to send this to others, with attribution, but not for commercial purposes.