When I was 5 years old, my dad got me a puppy. She was a German Shepherd that he had bought from a pet store, and I named her, Cynthia, because I thought it was a beautiful princess like name.
The very first day we had her, my dad drove me over to my grandma’s house so she could see the new puppy. I was in the back seat, buckled in with an airplane seat belt. Yes, an airplane seat belt. My dad was concerned with safety and he wanted me to be safe in the car, so because there were no seat belts in the cars back in the late 50’s, my dad put in a set of airplane seat belts. In fact, my safety was my dad’s biggest concern my whole life, he would remind me to buckle up and not talk to strangers, not to play with matches and tie my shoelaces so I wouldn’t trip on them.
Over the years, I traveled everywhere with Cynthia. She was always with me as I played ball and hiked, whenever I went up the street to visit neighbors or look for kids to play with. She was always there, stuck to my side and looking after me. Our friendship lasted 10 years before she passed away.
When my dad came down with cancer, several years back, he would bring up Cynthia every now and then. He told me he always wanted to buy me another Shepherd, and was just waiting for me to let him know when I wanted one. Sadly, the timing was never right and he died before he was able to do that for me.
6 months ago, during the summer, I started to think about getting a Shepherd. My son was older now and I had the time to devote to a dog. We had a large backyard and all the other requirements necessary to give a good life to a dog, so last June we brought a female German Shepherd home. Of course, I had to give her a princess type name and named her, Tara.
The first months were so hard. I kept thinking, what did I get myself in to. Like a new born child, she was terribly needy and all my time was devoted to her. Then during the fall, I started to see a change. She became very protective of us. No one could just walk up to us without her barking a warning. No unfamiliar person could come to the door without her letting us know. I started to relax and enjoy the security she was providing for us.
Yesterday, my son and I were walking on the trails and he asked to go to the lake by himself. I told him to take the dog with him and I was surprised by my reply. As he ran off into the bush with the dog trotting by his side, I repeated my words to myself, “take the dog with you.” Where had I heard those words before? My dad. Of course, my dad. He would always tell me, to take the dog with me whenever I was going off by myself and now I knew why. He knew as long as I had the dog with me, I would be protected and safe. The dog would protect me just as he would have. The dog would fill in for him, while I was out of his sight.
I now realized, those months before he passed away, when he was so sick, and knew he didn’t have much longer to live, he wanted me to have another Shepherd that would protect me, that would fill in for him after he was gone.
In the bush, I could hear Tara barking happily as my son ran along the river bed. My vision was blurry with tears, and I could not make out where they were, but it didn’t matter, for I knew my son was safe.