Our four-legged children


It was still dark outside. The dial on the alarm clock on my nightstand showed it wasn’t yet 6 a.m. I could hear that familiar sound, a tiny dachshund making whining sounds and shaking his little body. It was Riley doing his morning routine that means his “grandma” had to get up.

As I pushed my feet into slippers and put on my robe, I followed Riley into the hallway and through the living room. However, he didn’t head toward the back door and outside to do his morning duty. Instead, he rushed back into my son Doug’s room and back into his little doggie bed. This left me standing there shaking my head. If he didn’t have to go outside, why did I have to get up?

This old lady had to laugh. Riley does this almost every morning. He wakes up and insists that I get up too. Who knows why? However, I usually get up the same time since the coffee pot is perking. It’s set to go on about “Riley’s” time. So I pour myself a cup, go into the living room and with the sound almost silent, watch the morning news.

Riley thinks he runs the house. Correction, Riley does run the house. My son, our other dachshund puppy. Molly, and I know this absolute truth. What puzzles me — about this morning routine — is that Riley also thinks he’s a German shepherd and barks like one. Why he doesn’t wake me that way I don’t understand? But there isn’t any barking, just moaning and flopping of ears and “hey, get up, grandma!” I obey.

Any dog, cat, or other type animal lover knows what it means to love your pets. My son and I are no exception. When we lost our last two “four-legged children”, Charlie and Benjie, we were like destitute parents. First it was Benjie from cancer and soon afterward Charlie with another illness. Those days were some of the hardest my son and I have ever endured, but “adopting” Molly, and then Riley, made life once again more worthwhile.

Sorry if that sounds dramatic, but retirement hangs heavy on my and my son’s shoulders, the rest of our family lives elsewhere. Having these little “children” in our lives gives us meaning and purpose and a ton of fun and work, all of which is worth every second they’re here with us. Every pet owner knows what unconditional love means, something not always found with the two-legged species.

My boys had dogs in Pennsylvania and in Irvine, Calif. However, I was without one when my husband Van and I found our “Trinket,” a wirehaired dachshund. A friend I worked with had seen her roaming around a supermarket parking lot on a terribly hot Fresno, Calif. day. When my friend couldn’t locate the owner, she asked all of us at work if anybody wanted a little dog.

Van and I fell in love with this tiny dog right away. At first we had a problem, Trinket wouldn’t go near my husband and would hide when he entered a room. Just after we brought her home we had to leave Trinket at the vets while we were away, and on our return — when we picked her up — she jumped into that car, onto Van’s lap, and licked his face. Every thing was just fine.

We were lucky. We had many wonderful years with our adorable four-legged little girl. It didn’t matter where we went; Trinket was with us if it was at all possible. When visiting friends, she’d sit in her bed and not disturb anybody. However, when we went camping and fishing the first time with our new pet, we were in for a real surprise. Van put our little Valco fishing boat in the water close to where we were camped.

I had Trinket out to “do her duty” before we left her alone in our camper. But she had a much different idea. I had opened the camper door and taken Trinket off her leash. But instead of hopping up inside she turned, ran for the boat ramp, jumped into that little boat, sat down on the center seat and wouldn’t move. We found out quickly how much our little girl loved that boat, she never missed a trip.

Trinket passed away peacefully soon after Van and I moved to Idaho. Then we were blessed with our Missy and Kate; however, that’s a story better

Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer.

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