From fear to love

Bandit and Pebbles. I’ll never forget them. The first, a German shepherd, and the second, a golden retriever half breed, two lovable dogs my daughter and son-in-law raised some years back. Bandit and Pebbles are gone now, but I think of them with deep sentiment. They broke my fear of dogs, and they were the first dogs I learned to love.

I remember Bandit and his very regal stance, head held up high, ears always flexed upward, smooth silky black hair, and a mischievous grin from ear to ear. Looking very much like a handsome prince-dog, definitely of royalty. He was super rambunctious in his youth, constantly on the run and gallop, almost like a horse. Not only did he exude charm and grandeur, but distinct intelligence and smartness. It seemed like he could read minds. But what I remember most was his protective and loving nature. In his advanced years, cancer weakened him. His passing broke my daughter’s and son-in-law’s hearts. That was especially hard for my daughter. Bandit was her first pet.

And there was Pebbles, almost as big as Bandit, only bushier and “girlish”, very delicate, prim and proper. When she was but a pup, she had jet black fur with spurts of blonde hardly noticeable. She was a cute little whelp that loved to coddle on my husband’s chest as he stretched on the couch. This was almost a ritual that he looked forward to whenever we visited my daughter and her husband. Then Pebbles became a big girl-dog, still quite dainty and elegant in her movements, but definitely blonde. Traces of black streaked on her body, though barely noticeable. This was a reverse from when she was a pup. In her advanced age, sickness prevailed, and she passed. That, too, broke my daughter’s and son-in-law’s heart.

Bandit and Pebbles took away my fear of dogs. Up until a decade and a half years ago, I was captive to memories — where I spent my youth, stray, street dogs barked incessantly and pursued passersby. I remember at least a couple of times standing frozen on the path as hounds barked ferociously around me. Thank God, they didn’t bite, maybe because I prayed so hard for Jesus to call them away. And He did, or I still would be standing frozen like salt on the pathway.

Then I met Bandit and Pebbles, with their kisses, coddles and smiles, and best of all, their caring protectiveness. How could I not love them? Before Bandit and Pebbles passed, I never thought of a dog heaven. Now, it is easy to imagine a dog paradise full of happy, handsome and pretty dogs, running and sprinting on an infinite expanse of green meadow, to the tune of ethereal music and the Master’s
beckoning whistle. All gather around, and Bandit and Pebbles in the midst of the glorious pack.

Now, my daughter and her husband are “Mommy” and “Daddy” to Oliver, Marley and Daisy. The first two are German shepherds and the third, a half-breed Australian husky. I am grandmamma to them. Ollie is a spitting image of Bandit, always with a regal, confident bearing. Marly is the spunky one, like a headstrong girl in her teens. Daisy, the blondie, is quiet and somber, and projects a shyness that can be charming and alluring, or plain vexing. When I facetime, I am cheered to see them watching me with wide welcoming grins. When they’re not around, my daughter looks for them and calls, “Grandmamma is here!” I hear them galloping, except for Daisy, who tentatively ambles with a swagger and turns away. So, I tell Ollie who always carries a wise and responsible look on his face, “Call your sister back.” Meantime, Marly walks to the camera for a close-up and flashes that impish smile. She’s the one that loves to lick my cheeks and shove her face to my side when I’m seated on the couch. She nudges for gentle strokes on her smooth back. Then big brother Ollie trots back with Daisy in tow, and this time, Daisy pokes at the screen with her nose. I take that as a kiss. How could I not love such sweet dogs!

Linda P. Jacob

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