The Dog That Made Me a Dog Lover


When you look at the photo, you must keep one important fact in mind: plaid was fashionable in 1977.  And I was just 7 years old, so I probably didn’t know better.

I grew up with a Collie. My parents brought home this little fuzzball of a Collie puppy when I was about a year old, and we literally grew up together.

But her maternal and herding instincts kicked in very quickly, and she protected me from anything she thought might be a danger. This included a neighbor’s dog who was harmless and a garter snake who couldn’t have bitten me if it wanted to because they have no teeth. Still, she believed in being safe, not sorry, and she herded me away.

She died just shy of her 11th birthday, a victim of cancer. My dad told me that spent much of that last night in the backyard with her, trying to make her as comfortable as he could. The first time she stopped breathing, he actually performed CPR and revived her. The second time, he let her go.

And he said he sat there and just cried over her.

She was that kind of dog. Here’s the picture:

When my mom showed me this picture, a picture I had completely forgotten about, I had mixed feelings. I smiled at her face — and don’t get me started about those plaid pants. I smiled at her smile, and how happy I remember her acting any time her “pack” was with her. But I was also a little sad, too, because even now, 30 years after her death, I still miss that dog.

If there’s a better sign that she was a great dog, I can’t think of what it would be.


  1. @eeyore17026 (aka Strange) I probably have a few photos of me in bell bottoms, but so far, thank goodness, Mom hasn’t run across them. Even if she did, I doubt I’d post them. That isn’t necessarily the way I’d like to be remembered! HA!

  2. @hornsbjm48 Love the name Liesl and I hope you have much more time with her!

    No problem with the length of the comment: it didn’t feel long at all and the love you have for your animals definitely comes through!

    That’s exactly how it should be!

  3. @psalm23 Thanks, Cat. Glad it was memorable! 🙂 I need to check into that book, too.

    I remember reading a newsletter from Dean Koontz when the dog he and his wife had adopted died of cancer. It was the first dog they’d ever had that really grabbed hold of their hearts, and everything he talked about feeling was exactly how I’ve felt when I’ve lost every dog since that very first Collie.

    The funny thing is, no matter how many dogs you have and no matter how many times you lose one, it NEVER gets easier.

  4. @patricksplace My sister had a Collie and we loved him. About 8 years ago I adopted a Border Collie who was about 6 at the time so we think she’s going to be 14…she’s almost deaf and has cataracts, but if I get the leash out she goes berserk! I got her to help keep me walking since I’d lost my walking buddy and believe me she did the job. She struggles on the hills in my neighborhood now so we just go short distances.

    Did I mention that my children never had a dog when they were growing up? Hubby was a sentry dog handler in the Air Force so he didn’t want us to have one unless someone could be with them–he didn’t like the idea of leaving the dog home along all day–plus, he knew who would most likely end up taking care of them. So, when I got Liesl they were mighty upset. I told them if they had greeted me at the door every day when I came home like she does, they could have had a dog!! Now they are both dog owners so I have granddogs. My daughter’s dog was just selected to be on Pawmetto Lifeline’s calendar for next year. He’s half German Shepherd and Basset Hound–can you imagine? Has short legs, shepherd head and tail…hysterical!!

    Just praying that Liesl hangs in there…don’t know what I’ll do when she passes away.

    Sorry for the long windedness, but can’t help it when it comes to my baby!

  5. Today, serendipitously, I am cataloging this book: Cherished–21 writers on animals they have loved and lost (ISBN 9781577319573).Thought of this post IMMEDIATELY! 😀

  6. What a great memory! 🙂

    I remember wearing a few plaid pants myself… I had this one pair of plaid bell-bottoms that I thought were so cool!! *blushes*

  7. @hornsbjm48 Thanks. Collies are my favorite breed, too, just because of her. I’ve got a Collie now who is a year and a half old and there are things he does that remind me of this first one. It’s amazing how deep a connection we can build between us and our dogs, isn’t it?

  8. Love this, Patrick…she’s a beauty and collies are my favorite breed. As for the pants, my son has pictures that look just like that…it was all the rage!

  9. @patricksplace Imagine if kids did fashion design! The horror! We’d all dress like European golf pros or circus performers! 🙂

    Trying the double-enter thing to see if it works …

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.