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    Been There, Done That: Nine Decades And Counting By Alice Herb: Abigail, Daisy & Moon

    Abigail, Daisy & Moon By Alice Herb


    I thought it might be time to celebrate the light and happy companions and events that have been a part of our lives over the years. These beings are certainly not all human and I want to acknowledge some very special four-legged friends.


    I must start with a sad tale of being almost hysterically afraid of animals, especially dogs, as I was growing up. If I saw a dog coming in my direction I would cross the street or even walk around the block. It was a terrible fear, as I liked dogs from afar. That fear dissipated in large part when I met my first husband. He had a friend who had a Doberman Pinscher – a handsome black and brown male who was a fierce defender of his owner. My husband had me slowly befriending this fearsome creature who ultimately accepted this inferior being – me. It was an awesome experience. But my true bonding with dogs came about because of my brother’s love of both cats and dogs. In the end, dogs won out. And Abigail walked in to take the crown.


    Abigail, my “niece” dog, is a beautiful, smart, engaging Havanese who knows she is royalty and takes full advantage of her considerable assets to assert her power. Abigail is now 12 years old but has never acknowledged growing older, still believing herself to be a puppy. All of 7 pounds, she manages to assert her rule artfully. Since puppyhood, she has bonded with only one toy – an alligator. She has accepted new alligators as the old ones grew tattered but she accepts no others. Indeed, when I come to the door, Abigail comes barking to the door wagging the alligator in her mouth. She is saying “C’mom, stop this nonsense, you’re here to play with me.” And play with her, I do. When she is out with the dog walker in a group considerably larger than she is, she inevitably leads the pack. In the evening, Abigail often walks up to my brother’s chest (my brother is 6”5”, a colossus compared to her) to talk to him about important issues. He nods and interacts with her, which is adorable to watch.  


    But the big test came a while ago and continues today. Abigail is basically my sister-in-law’s dog during the day following close on her heels, wherever that may be. But in the evening, she becomes my brother’s companion and climbs up on the bed to spend the night with him. My brother has been hospitalized a few times recently and when my sister-in-law was ready for bed, Abigail refused to jump up on the bed, shook her head, and went into her own bed. It has caused some bad blood between the two ladies. Because, as soon as my brother came home, she happily climbed back into bed again. She is consistent and completely devoid of doubt about what she will do. She bewitches even her vet, who wants to keep her around when she comes in. But then Abigail does want to go home where her loving owner keeps her bathed and groomed to show off her beauty. Just thinking of her makes me smile!


    Then there was Daisy, a doodle. Unfortunately, Daisy has passed away, leaving a big gap for her owners and one for me too. This sweet and loving dog was just a cuddle. She came to know me early in her life and especially enjoyed visiting me at my beach house where she stayed with her folks occasionally or in their rented house nearby. When the family got off the ferry, Daisy inevitably turned to come to my house – the one she had always known – knowing she would have a happy welcome. She was permitted to jump on furniture, and roam the house and the decks, and never once did she upset anything. And Daisy loved treats. What a love she was and I miss her terribly, especially this past summer when she was no longer with us.


    Then there is Moon, my grandson’s dog, a muscular 70 lb. Pitbull, a magnificent example of the breed. Although I had formerly thought that Pitbulls were intrinsically dangerous, my grandson assured me this one was a honey, that he had groomed her to be sweet. When I first met her at a park bench in Central Park, she stood very close to me and simply stared at me, and then after a few minutes, she leaned forward and licked my hand. I had passed the test. I was no threat to her beloved owner. At every meeting since, she has been as loving and sweet as reported. She protects my grandson to be sure and I am glad to have a protector for him. 


    It is with this positive attitude that I have managed to overcome any discomfort, not only with dogs but also with other animals. I don’t have a pet of my own because I am so tired of responsibility that I don’t even like watering my plants. But if I wanted unconditional love, I would choose a dog rather than a person. So if you need company, I urge you to investigate adopting a dog. 


    P.S. My brother came home from rehab. Abigail was so excited that she ran all over the place and then onto his side of the bed, and peed!


    Alice Herb is a retired attorney, journalist, and bioethics consultant. Having reached the age of 90+, she’s more than ready to share her experiences and opinions with agebuzz readers. Want to comment on something she’s said? She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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