I am one of those dog people non-dog people might make fun of.
Dogs have always played a very important part in my life. My family got my first dog, Smokey, when I was 6. He was the family dog but I attached to him right from the start, a bond that became even stronger after my mother’s suicide when I was 19. I took him when I moved out of the family house in Memphis and he made the journey with me to NYC when I moved there. He lived until he was 18 when we, unfortunately, had to put him down, due to infirmities caused by aging. It caused me great grief and I didn’t think I’d be able to love another dog again.
Many years later Riggs came into my life via a friend who spent a lot of her time trying to find rescue dogs good homes. Despite her many attempts to get me to adopt, it wasn’t until she said “this is the dog for you” that something deep in my heart or head told me to go meet him. I had big reservations about the responsibilities associated with dog ownership, but we clicked and I adopted and he became the love of my adult life. There is nothing I wouldn’t have done for him and he traveled with me across the country when I left LA for a job in Florida and back again. He was my family and had my heart all wrapped up in his furry self. I gave him a good life full of hikes, furry friends, and pure, unconditional love. And he deserved it – he came to me perfect and stayed that way.
His cancer diagnosis was the catalyst to my finally getting help for the deep depression I fell into and learning how my grief over his possible demise was related to the unresolved grief I had from never really facing the loss of my mother. I say he helped me hit bottom and stayed with me until I was back up. His loss a year-and-a-half later devastated me but I survived it, though I had no intention of truly loving another dog again.
When I decided to produce The Silent Goldens documentary and give up my tv career, I became a dog-sitter. I figured I could be around dogs and really really like them but not get to attached that I’d get my heart shattered again.
And then came Mona, a little terrier mix and one of my first dog-sitting clients, along with her very big sister, Priscilla. She nipped at my heart immediately because she was a terrier and reminded me of Smokey, but she also had the happiest personality. And her little paws made the cutest pitter-patter on the wood floor when she came running. And it didn’t phase her when a new bull-mastiff puppy, Izzy, joined her family. Or when Mac came after Priscilla sadly went to the Rainbow Bridge. Her mom called her “The Tank” because she just kept joyfully trotting along as various health issues arose along with some quirks of aging.
I am lucky to get to spend a lot of time with this very special pack and have become very attached to them all. But Mona was the OG and we had a special bond. I’d even bring her over to my place some nights when I was in between dog-sitting jobs for sleepovers. I loved her. And even though she wasn’t mine, just knowing she existed and I’d get to see her again made me happy.
Mona left this world two weeks ago. And now I am heartbroken. As I’ve heard people say, we hurt so much because we love so much. But I’m not shutting down because she showed me I could truly love a dog again and it doesn’t take away from the love for another. I will miss her tremendously but I am so grateful that I got to be in her life and that she was in mine.