Canine Family & Friends

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Copyright © Judith Shaw

Why Do I Love Dogs? Maybe just because they’re dogs, not people. Because they’re loyal, trustworthy, unwaveringly truthful. Their qualities define what’s best in human beings. It’s just a pity that more humans aren’t more like dogs.

I understand dogs better than I do people. I grew up with them and, for many years, dogs were my only true friends. Permit me to introduce the dogs that have shared my life.

my brother Jere and Gamin, with my father in the background

My brother Jere and Gamin, with my father in the background

Gamin, our French ragamuffin, joined the family when I was only a year old, and his arrival is my earliest memory. When we brought him home, all black curls and bright button eyes, he immediately began humping my father’s leg. It’s a funny image to carry around for sixty-five years, but there it is.

He grew up to be a caretaker whose job was to look after my brother and me, and he took it seriously. One night he took exception to an unfamiliar babysitter and bailed her up in the coat closet until my parents came home. He was a great friend to a lonely girl and her brother, but he always loved my father best.

When I was ten, my parents split up and Gammy died. I got Truffle just after my father moved to Washington D.C. I was a basket case, but Truff climbed into the basket with me and helped me move on. He was a large, long-haired dachshund, red the way an Irish setter is red. He let me teach him to show jump, and when my brother was mean to me, Truff would threaten to bite him. I loved it!

I went off to college, leaving Truffle behind. The sad truth is I never really came back.

Judith with Muffin and Tyson

Judith with Muffin and Tyson

Twenty-five years later, when I was married with two children, we got Muffin, our Sarong Party Girl. She was a yellow Lab puppy we found at the RSPCA a week after moving to Australia, impossible to train and always in trouble for something. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was her theme song, and my husband was besotted with her.

Muffin was besotted with Rupert, the Border Collie next door.

When she was four, Muffin ate something that poisoned her, and there was nothing we could do to save her. It was like losing a child. But by then, thank God, we had Zelda, so life could go on.

Zelda was my darling. I bought her when she was 8 weeks old, and Muffin immediately adopted her. She was a Staffordshire bull terrier, black with tan stripes, and looked like a miniature pit bull. She was 40 pounds of solid muscle in a body the size of a Cocker Spaniel and could easily cut down a six-foot rugby player at the knees.

She was the gentlest dog I’ve ever known. Like all Staffies, she loved children and always slept under the covers with her humans. Her belly made an excellent foot warmer in winter.

Zelda was more than just a dog, although my husband always rolls his eyes when I say that. She was one of the most sentient beings I have ever known and a most extraordinary soul.

Zelda in a nutshell:

A tradesman who had called in to the house while we were out said to Ron,
“Oh, you’re the fellow with the good-looking dog!”
“I’ll tell her you said that,” replied my husband.
“Don’t bother. She told me herself.”

Image copyright Judith Shaw

Tilly being greeted by her baby sister Ava

Tilly is my obsessive-compulsive Jack Russell Terrorist who will go to any lengths to make humans play ball. She’s an orphan dog, rescued from a breeder when she was a year old. Tilly is afraid of strange dogs and reacts by attacking them, making walks somewhat anxiety-provoking for me. But she’s sweet and funny, and she makes us laugh so hard we forget what a pain in the neck she can be.

Tilly will probably be my last dog.

Luther the Rescued Pit Bull belongs to my daughter. He’s the closest thing to a grandchild I will ever have. He’s a big dog, black with white patches, and when he wags his tail it’s a good idea to get out of his way: that wagging tail can leave welts. Luther takes over the furniture when he visits, and if I sit next to him he always rests a paw on my knee. He likes to keep his family close.

All dog lovers have their favorite stories, and I will share some of mine with you in this section. Perhaps you have some to share, too. You can send them to .

Muffin the Good-Time Dog
Rupert: The Clown with OCD


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2 thoughts on “Canine Family & Friends

  1. bloggoneit

    Ah, my part Lab/part poodle is always eating something she shouldn’t; it must be the Lab in her. In fact, she ate something on our walk on Friday night or some time Saturday. Her stomach churned and made huge gurgling noises all day long. Apparently, she left a pool of yellow vomit by the sliding glass door for my husband to find and clean up at 5 a.m. At least she was trying to make it outside!

    Pearl, our wonderful Labradoodle, is one of my first full experiences with a dog and it’s been the best first experience ever. I’ve never met such a loving being and as she lays by my feet as I write this, I know there will never be another one like her. She’d better be prepared to live a very, very long time!

    1. Judith Shaw

      It’s so true. We know from the start that dogs have a short life span, but we’re somehow never prepared to have them go. I still miss all my dogs terribly. The word for the day: Never EVER let your dog eat chocolate. It can be lethal.

      My Jack Russell, Tilly, loves to eat the most horrible things. We walk off leash in a pack, and I spend every hike screaming “Drop it!”

      I hope you and Pearl have a long and happy life together. She’s one lucky dog.


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