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As a relatively new reader to this forum have just found the Working and Companion Animals thread but saw little there recently on how so many of us simply cannot live without one of these friends by our side. Now well into my senior years and having had a companion by our family's side for well over half of that time I can say that I would be hard pressed to manage without my friend, particularly with the recent loss of my wife who likewise had one of our 5, or is it now 6, dogs as a companion throughout her time with me.

As with I am sure my journey with doggie friends is with many folks is a long one and I invite other folks who similarly love their four legged friends to tell us about their journey but to get us started I will tell a little of my first introduction to dog ownership......

Way back as a recently married young(ish) man spending some time boating up on Georgian Bay a local cop who I had come to know as he also spent his spare time out on the water came to me and said “this little puppy got thrown (or jumped) out of a moving car and the owners did not return for him, would you be interested in taking care of him?” (there being no local alternatives in this small town at that time). The sucker that I was / am and the little long haired terrier being so cute I said yes and thus started my long affiliation with with such friends. It did not start off so good though, my buddy and I made the mistake of stopping for a quick bite at a restaurant on the way home leaving 'Fluffy' in the brand new truck (with the windows cracked) only to return less that 15 minuites later to a truck with NO rubber around any of the windows ….. my buddy though this funny until until he saw his sleeping bag in the back in shreds....

The dog lived and became a wonderful friend to not only us but to my my daughter upon her birth, such began my life with the dogs as my more recent companion lays at my feet wondering if we are going out to see how many chipmunks are in the bird feeders. More on this saga later meanwhile tells us of your first 'companion'.....
 

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We have had dogs in our life for 44 years. Just after we were married my husband gave me an eight week old male puppy for my birthday. German shepherd and Husky cross. Best dog ever. About 2 months later we were given a three month old female purebred white German Shepherd because they could not take her with them on their move. Best dog ever.

It did take a bit of getting used to as I was very OCD about a clean house. That is until one day when I had just finished washing the entry hall and kitchen floors and husband returned with the dogs after a walk that involved rolling in the mud. It was either spend my life cleaning or accept that dogs like kids do make a mess sometimes. So I relaxed a lot.

They went everywhere with us including thousand mile cross country camping trips in our van. Pure joy. Along the way we adopted a Border Collie from people who kept her locked in a room so we had three dogs. Best dog ever.

And then an unknown mix middle sized female who had been bought by a guy as a gift for his girlfriend who did not end up wanting her or him. The guy beat the dog when coming home after being gone to work and partying for 18 hours and finding that she had peed on the floor. Dah. His mother beat him and took the dog but could not keep her. Best dog ever.

Dogs do not live forever and each death was incredibly sad -but we will always remember all the joy they gave us. They all lived long and good lives and did not suffer in the end.

Over the next years we had a German Shepherd Collie mix, a Lab mix, a Husky, a Golden Retriever and an Anatolian Shepherd, our last dog who passed away in January at the age of 14. Best dogs ever.

All of our dogs were what we call Velcro dogs. Always near us and not one ever ran away or would not come when called. They all loved children, our other dogs and our many cats. The Lab mix was the first to realize that I was ill. He started distancing himself from me with a very anxious look on his face and sniffing me and pushing me with his muzzle. He died the day after I was in hospital. Our Anatolian Shepherd stayed by my side day and night for 8 years stretching out on the couch with me. Considering he was huge and weighed 150 lbs. it was a tight fit but he kept me happy and warm.

I doubt we will have another dog now but every day we feel an emptiness. A house is not a home until there is a dog and a cat sharing it with the people
 

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What a lovely story of a series of 'best dog ever' who filled your days for around the same number of years that one or another has (and still does) fill mine. As I said I would be hard done living without such a companion by my side, they were mostly a collie cross and I love their temperament ...although they all will treat you as you treat them eh! I have only rarely had a 'muddy dog' situation, but have done my share of unclogging vacuum cleaners full of dog hair and that particular challenge is not just restricted to those long haired carpet rugs.
As you said our four legged friends can sense when things are not right with us and tell us of their concern as best that can, as did my current companion upon the loss of my wife .... and still give me extra attention as and when needed.
I will tell more of Fluffy and those that followed as the memories surface prompted by stories like yours ........
 

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Before I move on to tell of some of our other doggie friends I will relate a couple more things of 'Fluffy' …..when my daughter was very young, barely crawling yet, Fluffy would go lay alongside her and she would grasp his long hair in her tiny fingers and generals 'maul' the dog, our four legged friend would just lay there looking at our daughter as if saying 'thats ok, I know mom and dad are looking and know I wont hurt you', what a super little friend he turned into.

At one time a little later we had a boat on Georgan Bay and as is quite usual in the boating community were visiting other boaters for a few drinks and sitting on the side of their boat placing our drinks on the dock alongside whilst chatting. My wifes Brown Cow beverage seemed to be sliding down remarkably smoothly and was refreshed several times however when we went to leave Fluffy who had been laying on the dock close to us did not move …strange? Turns out he had been sneaking a sip or three from my wifes tasty concoction as we chatted ….... we had to carry him back to our boat!

We unfortunately learned the hard way that as dog owners who rarely tie up our friends that initial training must be strict, particularly about leaving the property without permission, and lost our friend when he chased a neighbors car and got hit. A little consistent instruction at the start saves a lot of trouble in later years.
 

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I had to put down our 14yr old Blue Heeler a few days ago. She couldn't stand up, and was getting weaker every day. This brings us down to three house dogs, and just on guard dog outside. When these are gone I will won't be getting any more dogs. It is just too hard to put them down when the time comes. And any young pup I got today, would probably out live me, and I wouldn't have any control of where they ended up. So, no more new dogs for us.
 
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