The Abbey of Sparkle Abbey

Every Family Needs A Dog

By Sparkle Abbey

Every family needs a dog. My husband’s famous words.

I wasn’t so sure he was right. I didn’t have the best luck when it came to pets. In fact, every animal I had ever loved as a child, died early or faced a tragic accident—car, train, bobcat, deep freezer, pneumonia. Seriously, I’m not making this up. I couldn’t be responsible for another animal’s unfortunate demise.

In 2003, my husband decided we were getting a dog. He loaded our family of six into our minivan and drove us to the Animal Rescue League. We came home with a five-year-old lab chow mix named Abby. At seventy pounds, her orange fur and black speckled tongue made her unique. Her warm temperament and expressive brown eyes made her perfect for our loud family.

I, of course, refused to bond with her. She was “the kids’ dog.”

It was for her own good.

Abby came into our lives desperate for love and primed to protect us. We got our first experience with her protection skills that first night. My husband and I had decided to catch a movie. By the time we got home, the kids were in bed. While my husband walked the sitter home, I decided to check on the girls.

Without turning on the bedroom light, I tiptoed straight toward their bunk bed. A deep bear like growl halted me in my tracks. It was one of the most threatening sounds I’d heard and I about swallowed my heart. My eyes adjusted to the dark and zoomed in on Abby, curled up beside our oldest daughter on the bottom bunk. Abby didn’t lift her head or twitch her tail until I’d called out her name. I backed out of the room, heart racing, but assured Abby was on alert. My kids were now her kids.

Abby has the patience of a saint. She has laid on the floor and let our four kids weep all over her after watching My Dog Skip (for the third time) or Marley and Me. She’s tromped through the house in doll dresses, kid scarves and hats. She’s never chewed the kids’ toys or my shoes. She was the first line of defense when my husband was mobilized to Walter Reed in DC for two years. And she lets the little dogs believe they’re in charge (yes, we eventually rescued more dogs).

Don’t get me wrong. She’s not perfect. She’s managed to finagle a number of purses from the kitchen table and eat her share of Midol, Chapstick, chocolate bars, lipstick and a half a sandwich (one never knows what a young teenager carries in her purse). She’ll eat the tissues from the wastebaskets and then promptly throw up. She sheds enough fur you could make a dog wig.

She loves kids, isn’t completely sold on men other than my husband and our sons, and has her own ideas on what part of her body she likes petted. Ears are bad, back and butt, great! And she’s loves to chase a beam of light.

I don’t know when it happened, but at some point, I’d let down my guard and loved Abby. My husband, being the risk taker of the family, decided that meant we should rescue two more dogs—Chewbacca, an eight pound Yorkie and Sophie, a four pound Yorkie. Each has their own stories. Both are “my dogs.”

Abby’s almost fifteen now. Where her muzzle was orange, she’s gray. Standing and sitting is more difficult. If she’s not sleeping, she’s pacing; often forgetful of what she was going to do. She wants to be with her pack of humans, wherever that maybe. Her expressive eyes are a little more cloudy now, but still full of love.

She still has those rare days when she’ll bound down the hallway like a puppy or charge after a beam of light. Sometimes, when she’s feeling really frisky, she steals Chewy and Sophie’s ball and hides it. She’s older, but she’s still teaching us what it means to love.

Abby may be a rescue dog, but the reality is, she rescued me.

Sparkle Abbey – Pampered Pets Mysteries

Sparkle Abbey is the co-writing team of Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter. The authors took their pen name from the names of their two rescue pets, Sparkle (ML’s cat) and Abbey (Anita’s dog). They like to joke that they could have been Chewbacca Matisse, their other rescue pets.

Because rescue pets are so near and dear to their hearts, the authors like to pair their book events with a rescue organization. For the launch of Desperate Housedogs, their first book, they worked with their local public library and the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (www.arl-iowa.org ). For the second book in the series, Get Fluffy, the authors and Raccoon Valley Animal Sanctuary and Rescue (www.raccoonvalley.com ) put together a benefit, Yappy Hour, which they describe as a BYOD (bring your own dog) event with pupcakes from a local bakery, training tips, and a dog walk. The third book in the series, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang, will be out soon and this time they’re planning an event with Smitten Kitten and the Furry Friends Rescue group (www.furryfriendsrefuge.org ).

Sparkle Abbey urges readers to do whatever they can to support their local pet rescue. Donate, volunteer, foster, adopt, and spread the word!

They enjoy hearing from readers and especially love hearing about your pets! www.sparkleabbey.com