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Four Dogs?!? Yeah the Ones Who Changed my Life Part 1

The other day while speaking with someone, we stumbled upon the topic of animals (pets to be precise). I mentioned how I had had four dogs in my lifetime who I have loved dearly... All chocolate labs as a matter of fact. The person looked quite aghast and responded, "Four dogs?! How can you have had 'love' for four dogs? It takes enough out of me to love one." I chuckled and went on with the conversation, but inside of me a little voice incredulously shouted, "What?" Obviously this person
A) doesn't love my dogs... 
B) or doesn't understand how love works...

In case the answer is A, let me tell you about my dogs. There is too much for one post, so I'll write one post about each dog.

I had two chocolate labs growing up. We got one when I was five and one when I was six. 

My boy, Spot (short for General Lee's Victory at the Battle of Spotsylvania), was one year old when we got him and he had been chained to a pole in someone's backyard for the majority of that time. Someone bought that beautiful stud of dog and didn't realize he would have a personality and a desire for time and affection attached. When he got to us, he was wild and crazy, always happy to jump up on you and lick you face to show how happy he was that someone was finally coming out the back door to play with him. 

No matter how hard I tried to teach him to calm down, he inevitably scared every one of my friends by jumping on them and kissing them. Yet, here I would find myself, a young child flat on my back with a hundred pound solid muscle dog on top of me... and I was happy. I laughed. I knew he never meant any harm. I wasn't that way when we first got him, but having him changed me. It made me see more than what my eyes could show me.

Once I heard one of my friend's mothers call Spot "stupid" because of his bounding, joyous, affectionate attitude. I was extremely upset, but I didn't know what to think. I was just a kid, whose dogs were heroes to her. Then one night in sixth grade, I had my an experience with the pain that girls can cause when they want to exclude you from their group and make fun of you. I came home and thinking that telling anyone would simply be tattling on them, so I kept it all inside. That night when I went outside to feed my dogs, I was quickly shoveling the dog food into their metal bowls, when I stopped. Something wasn't right. 

It was... quiet. I looked around for my jumping Spot (and other dog) and to my surprise, Spot sat beside me, head cocked and not moving. I looked at him trying to figure out what was wrong. After looking around for a moment to see if I had missed something, I looked at him. He was still sitting there staring at me. Suddenly he leaned forward and gently licked my hand, before nudging my leg as if trying to hug me. It dawned on me in that moment, that he knew I was upset. Call me crazy, a girl just imagining what would help her cope, or whatever else you want... but looking into his eyes, I knew he was sad for me. I sat down right there in the grass and cried, clutching him in my arms. All the while, my crazy, jumping dog never moved. He knew he was needed right then. 

Spot taught me not to fear others because of the way they look. He was a massive, muscular, jumping dog... but all he wanted was to love me. He taught me never to judge other people and to be there when someone you love needs you. I wish I could show you  picture of him in all his blocky, strong chocolate glory, but I only have one blurry picture of him. The good ones are all in my mind.

He looked an awful lot like this, except bigger... I know it looks hard to believe, but it's true. He looked like a small brown bear. And he wore a chain just like this...