A Three-Dog Life

by Diane Kane

I have lived a three-dog life. I know others who’ve had more, but three is enough for me. Growing up I never had a dog, but after I got married, I said to my husband, “I want a dog that looks like Ole Yeller.”

Bear was a yellow lab puppy with paws of great expectations. He was my constant companion through the unbearable heat of the summer of 1980 while I was pregnant with my first daughter. Bear and Shannon grew together, and he was the best big brother any little girl could have. Two years later, Danielle was born, and our family was complete.

Bear grew to be a giant of a dog, and like most big dogs, he didn’t live long; ten years, not long enough. We buried him in our backyard with his toys and a piece of my heart.

Eventually, the girls wanted another yellow lab. Cody bounded into a house of active children and fit right in. He was nothing like Bear, but then no dog could be. I tried not to love him, but I failed. Cody was a social dog and an escape artist as well. We would come home from work to messages of Cody’s escapades.

Cody died unexpectedly when he was nine years old. “Cancer,” the vet said, although he’d never shown any symptoms. My husband dug the hole near Bear and gently placed Cody into it with his favorite blanket, all his toys, and another piece of my heart.

Several years passed, and we were dogless. I didn’t think that I could love another. Then, our girls left for college, and the house took on a quiet that wouldn’t go away.

“I need someone to greet me at the door with a wagging tail,” I said to my husband.

Milo, half pug, half beagle – Puggle – had a tail that won’t stop; until one winter day when he was four years old. Milo jumped off our six-foot high deck and ruptured his back. We drove to the emergency vet through snowflakes and tears.

“You have two choices,” the vet said, “We can perform a costly operation that might save him, or we can put him down.”

The operation was long and complicated. Milo pulled through, followed by more than a year of successes and setbacks. My husband and I took turns with his daily physical therapy until he could finally walk on his own. Afterward, we agreed it was all worth it to see his little tail wag again.

Milo is twelve years old now. We reinforced the deck railings so he wouldn’t take that trip again. His legs still go out from under him when he gets too rambunctious, but it doesn’t seem to bother him.

Sometimes I look at him and wonder, How big will the hole in my heart be when he is gone? After all, it really doesn’t matter. I will always be thankful to have lived a three-dog life.


Diane Kane is submissions coordinator for Quabbin Quills and co-producer of their two anthologies, TIME’S RESERVOIR and MOUNTAINS AND MEDITATIONS. She also writes food review articles for the Uniquely Quabbin Magazine. Diane’s latest accomplishment is her self-published book of flash fiction stories, FLASH IN THE CAN.

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