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15 things I learned from my dog

When my dog Parker died, he left the world a better place than he found it

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Parker was my dog. Actually, he was more than that. He was my “big guy,” my friend and, surprisingly, one of my teachers. Parker was a boxer, lab and pit bull mix. I rescued him in May 2013 from Orange County Animal Services minutes before he was scheduled for death. Unfortunately, Parker died on New Year’s Day. I was devastated and heartbroken by his passing. He amazed me from the start of our relationship.

Parker had been abused in his previous life, which upset me, especially given what a great dog he was. Somehow, though, after a rough start to life, Parker loved everything – his adopted canine sister Charlize, his adopted family, strangers, other dogs and (most amazingly) me – so uninhibitedly and naturally.

After hearing the news about Parker’s death, my mom said, “Parker was sent here for a purpose.” At first, I rejected this as motherly babble meant to assuage my despair. But then I remembered the night Parker saved my life. I was walking the dogs late one evening. A car pulled up and a man got out of it screaming. He demanded that I give him all of my money or he would cause me great harm. As he approached, he could only see Charlize and me. Then Parker came up from behind me and let out a ferocious growl. It was the only time I heard Parker growl at a human, and he meant business. The man stopped dead in his tracks, then turned around without saying another thing. He got in his car and drove away. Parker looked at me as if to say, “Problem solved.”

So maybe mom was right. Parker’s life, while short, had a purpose. In fact, I learned a lot from Parker, so now I want to share some of the things he taught me.

1 Don’t judge based on appearance. The first time I saw Parker, he looked sick. In fact, if not for the persistence of one dedicated person who was determined to get me adopt him, I would not have picked Parker. I would have picked a healthier dog. When I arrived at the shelter, I took Parker into an area to see if we got along while the staff watched. If I hadn’t taken him, they would have brought him to the room where dogs are euthanized – he would have died. There were a lot of other dogs that looked a lot healthier and happier up for adoption, but the way Parker rubbed his head against my leg in his moment of need let me know that he was my boy.

2 Love your family unconditionally. I feel like I was a good doggie dad to Parker, but I made mistakes with him. We all make mistakes. But Parker never held a grudge against me when I scolded him. If somebody you love scolds you unnecessarily, forgive them. Don’t hold a grudge. Time is short. Do you really want to spend it being mad at the people you love the most?

3 Move on from the past. When I did do wrong by Parker, as soon as I let him know things were OK, he would immediately jump on me and kiss me as if to say, “Let’s move on.” I knew he loved me. He knew I loved him. After having problems, we just moved forward.

Puppy Love
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