Life … just a series of dogs?

We lost our friend of almost 15 years recently.  Darby, our little Shih Tzu buddy died, perhaps from complications of pneumonia, but more likely he simply wore out. 

Darby: 1997-2010

It came as a shock, but absolutely no surprise.

After all, isn’t this how it always happens?    We love our dogs, but we know from the moment we bring them home that we are setting ourselves up for heartbreak.  We realize that the clock is ticking and our time with them is limited. 

Anticipating this day, we had brought a new dog into our lives … a Lhasa Apso rescue named Sandy.   Sandy was young and full of energy and Darby was old and set in his ways, but despite the age difference Sandy and Darby bonded fairly quickly.

They enjoyed each other’s company and for over a year Sandy co-existed with Darby in our home while she slowly, but surely worked her way into our hearts.   Though Sandy was part of the planned succession, for a period we thought of ourselves as a two-dog family.  For that span of time, we  spoke in terms of needing to let the dogs out, to feed the dogs, to have the dogs groomed, to take the dogs to the vet for shots.  Everything was stated in the plural.

The late comedian Mitch Hedberg, said  … “Life is just series of dogs.”   

Hedberg’s unique form of observational comedy would at times be hilarious, causing you to double over with laughter.  Then occasionally your reaction might be little more than a subdued chuckle as it occurred to you that through a simple joke, he had just uttered an undeniable truth.  With  this  simple line tossed out in the middle of a long comedy sketch, Mitch had gone right to the heart of the issue for dog lovers everywhere.  

Because a dog’s life-span is so much shorter than a human’s, life is indeed a series of dogs.  But, it’s more than just a series.  That would imply that one dog replaces the other.  But, is that really how it happens?

At first we viewed Sandy as a replacement.  She was simply the dog who would carry on in our home and in our hearts once Darby left us.  Since life is just a series of dogs, Sandy was just the next in dog the series.  Of course for a while we had been a two-dog family, but now we were back to only the one.  As expected, Sandy had replaced Darby.

But a curious thing had happened in the interim.  We discovered another undeniable truth. 

Some things are just too precious to be replaced.  A replacement of something sentimental is never quite sufficient.  The replacement is always inferior to the original.  Instead of being a replacement, Sandy had become something far better.  

Sandy had become a continuation of Darby.


About Judson

Late bloomer ... aspiring writer and musician.
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9 Responses to Life … just a series of dogs?

  1. cogitodexter says:

    For us dog-lovers, life isn’t a series of dogs. It’s a procession. A parade of companionship, joy and personality.

    To share a dog’s life is to peek into the soul of absolute trust and all the while revel in the responsibility of dependence: not just the dog’s materiel dependence on his master, but the master’s emotional dependence on his dog. Once you let a dog into your life, life becomes forever after incomplete without that livery wetness of a nose that sneaks underneath your shirt when you’re half asleep on the sofa, those eyes that stare up at you and go deeper into your soul than any human can manage and that God-given ability for Rover to moderate his master’s mood and divert melancholy towards calm and peace.

    How, otherwise, would we explain why we spell God backwards and come up with Dog?

  2. Care says:

    So sorry for your loss. My dog is a very special part of my life and we are contemplating adding another soon. I love cogitodexter’s comment; a procession, a parade of joy. Very nice.

  3. I loved your blog entry. I adopted a rescue kitten after one of my cats passed away and I used to tell the kitten stories about the other cat. It was a great way for me to remember all the good times with my old cat and remind myself that I still have love to share with the new one!

    Have a look at our websites: & .

    We have great gifts and toys for your new dog Sandy and some beautiful memorials that would be great remembrance items for Darby!


  4. You captured the essence of pets in our families.

    Having been an owner of rescue dogs and cats for the past 30 years, like you we practiced that two pet household and planned for succession. But I also thought that having two dogs allowed them to live with someone who spoke their native tongue. It isn’t that our pets don’t understand English/Human, but there is a companionship that exists with those who can speak in that language we were born with, that is automatic.

    Somehow our last dog seemed to be happiest as the only dog star, so we had pared down to one. Now we are looking at the pound/rescue dogs for another dog to step into our lives.

    Thanks for your great, reflective post.

  5. mtngoats says:

    Yeah, losing a furry friend is never easy. I like to think that I too become a continuation of them. That I can learn to share with others the life lessons and unconditional love they model to me daily.

    • We have a refrigerator magnet that says “We should always strive to be the sort of person our dogs think we are.” There is a lot of truth to that sentiment. Thanks so much for your input.


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