How a Dog Changed My Life
By: Carol Rood
I had an amazing friend once. I didn’t find her until I was 23(ish) years old. I never realized how much I was missing until I found her. Rather she found me. She was a dog named Amber. She was my “forever” dog. The one that is in your heart the deepest. The one spot that cannot be filled by any other animal after that special one has passed on. This is the animal that rides in your car to do errands with you, the one whom you confide in, tell your problems to, is your best friend, playmate, and psychiatrist all in one. This is the dog who turns a horrible day into a fabulous day merely by greeting you with love an affection. No matter how your day was, the minute you walk in the door, you are the most loved and important thing in the world!
I have had the joy of having a forever dog. Some people are lucky and have more than one in their lifetime. I have not been blessed in that way. I have other pets. They bring me joy, and I love them all, but they will never fill my heart the way Amber did.
Amber was a dog who found me. In 1992 I was stationed at the US Naval Reserve Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I was outside taking a smoke break (don’t judge -we were all young and dumb once). While I was standing outside, a cute little puppy ran up to me trailing a rope around her neck and jumped up on my white uniform skirt with her muddy paws. I was standing outside with three of my co-workers when she ran up to us. Why she chose me? Who knows, but it was love at first sight. I had never even owned a dog in my life, but I decided that if nobody came to claim her by the end of the day I was going to take her home to care for her until her “real” owner showed up.
This was rural Arkansas folks….no chips…no tags…no collar. Just a rope. So I took her home, and within a week I decided she was mine. I named her Amber, and thus began a 15-year-love affair. We did everything together. Ran errands, watched tv, went for walks, etc. I was young and single, and Amber totally filled my heart!
She thought she was a lap dog, even after she turned into a 40 pound lab/pitt mix. You could never convince that dog she did not belong in my lap cuddling. She slept in my bed, and I even had an armchair that was “hers”.
During our time together I moved to six states with her, drove across the country with her, got married, had two kids, got divorced, and she was with me through it all. I knew I could always count on Amber for unconditional love and support.
Then in the fall of 2003, while we were camping, Amber somehow was able to get loose, ran into a busy street and was struck by a car. She was about 9 or 10 years old at that time. The emergency vet was sure she was going to die that night, and gave her drugs to make her “comfortable”. He was shocked when Amber was making a strong recovery by the next morning. I wasn’t. I knew what she was made of. She did recover from that head injury, although she lost her right eye, and ruptured her ear drum (she was struck in her head by the car). She also had a new bump on her skull that wasn’t there before, but she was happy, and just as loving after the accident as she was before. She ran a bit crooked after that, (try covering one eye and running around the backyard)….but her injury never slowed her down.
Looking back on it, I do think it was that injury that eventually took her life, although I will never truly know. One day she started walking in circles and couldn’t seem to stop. I called the vet, who promptly sedated her and thought maybe she had some vertigo going on that was a temporary thing. Amber was 14.5 years old. She recovered, but started walking in circles again within a couple of weeks. The vet decided she had a brain tumor and there wasn’t anything we could do. She was too old for surgery, so we made her comfortable, and did the most humane thing, which was to gently put her to sleep. We were all with her loving on her when she died. Her head was in my lap, being covered with kisses by Bluebell, the kids, and of course me. She was covered in a blanket to be kept warm, and we all laid our hands on her to comfort her while she gently passed to the Rainbow Bridge.
Amber was the best dog EVER. An amazing friend and confidante. My best friend. She is missed tremendously, and I will never be able to love a dog quite the same way. I can only wish that everyone can have the kind of experience with an animal like I had.