Hodge: Our pets have a way of getting wrapped around our hearts

I’m convinced that last week while I worked in my basement office I heard her pitter patter across the dining room floor.

I am positive that two days ago I heard her dog tags and leash clinking in the air as she ran down the backstairs from the house to the barbecue area.

However, that is ridiculous, because…well, she is dead.

I’m equally convinced that last week while I worked in my basement office, I heard her pitter patter across the dining room floor.

Then I remembered—my TeddyBear is gone.

I am not sure how long this will continue, but I have a feeling it will take quite a while.

Losing a loving pet like TeddyBear is never easy for she was an exceptional dog—the ‘Dog of the Year’ every year in my world.

For Teresa and I, our home is suddenly a lot quieter (albeit also a lot less hairy).

It’s interesting how many pet owners themselves become creatures of habits taught to them by their pets.

Everyday around 3:30 p.m., Teddy would insist on going outside on the front step to wait for Teresa to come home from work.

I see the hurt in Teresa’s eyes now when she arrives home and Teddy’s big brown eyes and wagging tail are not there to welcome her.

When we get up in the mornings, we still take a big step to get out of bed because TeddyBear always slept right next to the side of the bed, either on Teresa’s side or mine.

I never thought I would actually miss the smell of stinky dog that just ran around in the rain —but I do.

Teddybear came into my world seven or eight years ago and, in a twisted sort of way, perhaps saved my life.

Certainly, she had a major impact on some key decisions I made in my world about six years ago.

It was my ex-wife who brought TeddyBear into my world.

We had lost a previous loving dog a few months before and Sharon could not stand watching me mope around the house.

She saw an ad in the paper for a ‘loving malamute-collie cross’ and insisted we check her out.

I argued and lost.

On the way to see the dog, I listed off all the reasons I could think of to not get another dog.

In reality, I simply did not want to go through the hurt again.

My main excuse was that we had a pile of cats and the dog would have to like cats. What four-year-old dog could possibly learn to get along with five strange cats?

My argument disappeared the instant we saw TeddyBear.

She was on the deck of the house when we arrived and in between her front paws was a tiny kitten curled up asleep.

Teddy saw my vehicle, jumped up, ran across the yard and into the passenger seat of the car.

I was hooked.

Some two years later, Sharon and I split up and she moved to Hawaii.

I admit to feeling devastated at the time and was tempted to sell everything, buy a camper van, and take off as well.

However, I could not stomach the idea of giving away or abandoning TeddyBear and the five cats.

I spent the next few months feeling sorry for myself, drinking like a fish, and generally just being an idiot.

Still, every day I returned home to a dog that loved me and needed me. In reality, I probably needed her more.

TeddyBear was always there for me, and eventually my world brightened up again.

When I met Teresa and fell in love she had three cats of her own.

Eventually we were married and our household at one point actually contained eight cats and the dog.

Never once in eight years did TeddyBear even as much as chase one of the cats.

In fact, she guarded them all and was particularly close to three of them.

On Friday, July 27, we awoke to discover that Teddy could not get up.

Her hind legs had simply stopped working, her age having caught up to her.

I made the difficult phone call to Dr. Pat, our wonderful vet at Noah’s Ark.

Dr. Pat had a horrendous schedule that day and could not get to the house for several hours, so I sat on the floor with Teddy for five hours and just held her.

During that time, an amazing interaction took place between TeddyBear and Max the cat. The only male animal in the house (next to moi), Max is a Persian with the personality of a dog. I am convinced he thinks he is a canine.

Max came over to Teddy and laid down beside her for about half an hour, then five minutes before the vet arrived he got up, wandered over to Teddy’s head which was on my lap, and licked Teddy’s nose three times.

That is when I lost it. Teddy just sighed a satisfied sigh and I swear I saw her smile.

As much as Teresa and I loved Teddy and are big dog fans, we have no plans to get another dog at this time.

In fairness, neither of us have the energy it takes to properly care and/or train a new dog—nor are we ready for one yet.

I know that in time the loss of our loyal companion will ease and the hurt inside will simply be replaced by fond memories—but not today.

Today, I just plain miss my pal TeddyBear Hodge—the queen of the all dogs in our world.

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