Ralph to the Rescue

November 7, 2010 at 9:09 pm 5 comments

Dogs heal.   (That’s no typo.)  An insufferable pet parent and longtime dog owner, I can tell you that—for my money, having as furry friend waiting for you at the tag end of a long, crappy day can keep both the blues and booze at bay.

My devotion to dogs began with our family’s first, a lovable Saint Bernard named Ralph.  When we had Ralph I was a young girl living with my mother and cat lover, Peg Bracken, in a hippie town called Bolinas—right on the beach, south of San Francisco, and miles away from reality.  (Proof positive:  Jefferson Airplane used to summer there, jamming, getting high and engaging in unabashed free love.) 

Among their many other talents (e.g., drooling and shedding) this ursine breed were, of course bred in part as rescue dogs.  Though he never aided a stricken alpinist, Ralph did save me many a time from eating food I did not like—notably lima beans and a few disgusting kinds of the Birdseye Vegetables Mom got by the truckload.  (Was their Carrots and Marshmallows not some science experiment gone horribly wrong?) 

I will never forget Ralph, nor the many other dogs that became part of my life—my Blue Dane, my Australian Shepherd, and my sweet but scary Rottweiler.  Each left an indelible stamp on me.

Currently, our main Rover in Residence, Genghis, is a purebred Chinook (think sled dog) possessed with a Zen-like quality that puts him forever “in the moment,” whether running a 10K or laying on the couch all day.  We lost our big, beautiful three-year-old Irish Wolfhound, Winston, to cancer earlier this year, and I thought I was going to die, but am starting to heal with the help of our new Wolfhound puppy, Maggie.

I watch documentaries showing prison inmates transformed when given cats to care for.  I cheer when seeing the same phenomenon on the new TV show Pit Bulls and Parolees.   Then I imagine all those thousands of dogs similarly “jailed” and condemned to shelters across America and think, just how hard would it be to give every prisoner a pooch? 

Naïve and wishful?  I wonder.

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Living, Loving and Letting Go “Salad, Please…Sunny Side Up!”

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sandy King Abernathy  |  November 8, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Jo, I loved this! And I remember Ralph when we were kids! He was SO BIG. LOL! Yes, our pets are precious and part of the family. I have 3 human adult “Kids” in their 30’s. And currently I have 3 cats. And I love them all dearly. I remember shut in at nursing homes I would visit some “shut ins” at who had no family. Some people brought in Cats, Dogs, and even pet pigs! It was wonderful to look at the faces of those in wheel chairs as their eyes grew big and smiles erupted on their faces! Anyhow, I loved this post! Hugs my friend….

    Reply
  • 2. Mollie Beck  |  November 8, 2010 at 9:04 am

    You were right…this is a great idea!

    Reply
  • 3. Marsha Calhoun  |  November 8, 2010 at 11:58 am

    And I take it that you are observing a gentlewoman’s agreement not to reveal the true location of Bolinas!

    I am currently dogless after a lifetime of pups around the house, so your post is poignant. I like your idea of matching imprisoned dogs with imprisoned humans – maybe you have started something. I hope so.

    Reply
  • 5. Glory Styles  |  September 10, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    My grandmother lived two doors down from Peg in Bolinas. Our family still owns the house. I remember Peg coming over and sitting with my grandmother in the kitchen, drinking strong tea (my grandmother was English) and discussing recipes. My grandmother didn’t love cooking either.

    Reply

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