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Thursday, September 28, 2023
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Now I understand the love shared by human beings and their dogs

By: Keith Kappes
Carter County Times

”Old dogs care about you even when you make mistakes.”

That line from “Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine” was written and recorded by the late Tom T. Hall in 1972 and was a No. 1 hit on the country music charts. Like most of Tom’s great music, it was based on a true story and helped earn him the nickname of “The Storyteller”.

Last week, 50 years later, those lyrics came to mind when my youngest son called with the tearful news that his dog, Julie, had died at age 12 and he was heartbroken, nearly inconsolable, in his grief.

I somehow had expected this 38-year-old man to be more clinical about losing a pet dog. After all, it was not like a person had died. Honestly, I’d never understood the adoring, like-a-member-of-the-family bond between humans and their pets.

But my attitude changed as the day wore on and he shared the sad news with other family members and his friends. Our family text message thread never stopped all day with reports of crying and messages of condolence over the loss of that dog.

I came to realize that Julie was not just any dog. A mix of border collie and Labrador retriever, she was rescued twice in her lifetime after being physically abused by a drunk and then almost starved by an addict.

My son was her third owner and now I am convinced that he and the pooch rescued each other during their eight years together.

As her physical wounds healed and she learned to trust again, her loyalty and affection for him helped him survive lost relationships, medical issues, job challenges and physical relocations from Kentucky to Colorado to Washington State and then to Georgia.

Thanks, Julie. I hope you rest in peace. You truly were a member of our family.  

Contact Keith at keithkappes@gmail.com.



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