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May 15, 2008

We’re approaching the fourth anniversary of my first dog’s death, and it still catches me off-guard. While cleaning off some old patio furniture cushions the other day, Tom found a bevy of Penelope’s white hair in the creases. And, it totally made me cry.

Penelope Grace was my first dog as an adult. We had several dogs when I was growing up, but Penelope was the first one I chose (via Dal Rescue) and raised myself. She came to live with us just a few months after I finished college. I shudder at the lack of training she had, but I was young (22) and didn’t know better. Plus, she was very, very ornery. She did pass a basic obedience class at Petsmart as a youngster, but that’s it. I never did teach her to walk well on a leash, so she dragged me around for 14+ years.

Sometimes I still marvel that walking with Lilly isn’t a struggle. I look down and see her smiling face right next to my leg and think HOLY CRAP!

Still, Penelope holds a special place in my heart, and I miss her. She loved food like you would NOT believe, so we keep her ashes on top of a bookshelf in the kitchen. Weird? Probably, but it makes sense to us.

I dug out and scanned a couple photos to share. I sent these a while back to a writer friend who was going through a rough time. She’d asked people to describe in detail what their Patronus would look like. For those who haven’t read the Harry Potter books, a Patronus is an animal made of light that shoots out of your wand to protect you from a particular brand of evil.

Since Penelope was afraid of nothing, and I mean nothing, I decided she would make a good Patronus to share. She was born in 1990, so in the bed photo she’s about 6. In the other one, I’m guessing (based on the collar color) she’s about 2 or 3.

I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this before, but she was born with a significant orthopedic birth defect in her left rear leg. That’s why it turns out. She had 2 complete feet and 2 complete ankles on that leg. The inside foot was removed when she was just a few weeks old. She also had an extra bone between her knee and her hock joint. That came out when she was about 6 months old. Then, when she was about 8, she blew out that knee, and we had that fixed. Kidney failure eventually got her when she was 14 1/2 years old. We do have photos of her as an old girl, but I prefer to think of her in her prime.

And, yes, it appears I have a *thing* for black-and-white dogs.


About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

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