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April 21, 2015

When Pets Make a House Your Home

Nine and a half years ago, on the heels of a family loss, Val and Maddi brought Simon home. They had to do some quick talking to convince me to keep him, but I did believe that every kid should have a dog, and so he stayed.

We were never sure exactly how old he was because we adopted Simon from this super cool girl who fostered pets from the Humane Society. When an animal went too long before being adopted and was in danger of euthanasia, she would adopt it and then advertise it on ksl.com in the hopes that she could find a permanent home. Simon only cost $40 and was some kind of combination of Chihuahua, Papillon, and/or Pomeranian. He had a magnificent, fluffy white tail and the sweetest face with a perpetual smile, but in between, he was kind of like a furry sausage covered with constantly erupting sebaceous cysts. As he got older, petting him was kind of like reading Braille because he was covered with 20-30 bumps and lumps at any given time.

When he first came to us he was a runner. We had to be careful every time we opened the door because if we didn’t block him he would shoot outside and could be down the street and out of the neighborhood in seconds. I’ve lost track of how many times we found him at Animal Control, or someone would knock on our door, or call us to tell us that they found him wandering down some far away street. I always thought he ran because he was looking for his first family and couldn’t understand why he wasn’t with them anymore. But after awhile that fierce sense of loyalty was transferred totally and completely to our family and he revealed his ultimate superpower: snuggling.

If you were sitting down, you were fair game and he would jump in your lap and nuzzle your hands insistently until you started to pet him. You had to be constantly moving your hands or he would nudge and lick your hand into action again and again. He was stubborn and smart. We installed a doggie door and he was perfectly capable of using it and did so without fail when we weren’t home. But if we were home, he would sit outside in the freezing cold and wait until we offered him bacon before he would use the door and walk back in. And on walks if we started to go a direction he didn’t approve of, he would stop, sit down and just look at you until you gave in and went his direction. Once I was trying to cross the street in front of our house when he sat down and refused to go with me. A car was approaching, so I yelled his name and tugged on the leash to save him from being hit. Instead of jumping up and away from the danger, he laid down with his paws in the air so that tugging on the leash made him roll over and over. The driver was laughing so hard she had to stop and compose herself before she could go on.

He would jump for treats, howl on command, and shed like crazy. He rarely barked, but looking back I’d say he bit at least 20-25 people over the years we had him.

So, he was a biter, a shedder, stubborn, disobedient and covered with constantly rupturing cysts. And I loved him so much. Simon was my soul mate dog, and I hate how empty my house feels tonight. He was trouble, but in a million years he could never be more trouble than he was worth. If you are considering getting a pet, but aren’t interested in the extra work, time and money they will cost—do it anyway. Simon made our house a home in so many ways, bonded our family together and would fiercely protect us, and loved us so much. We got so much more out of our friendship with him than we gave.

Do all dogs go to heaven? I sure hope so.

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