Note: This week we welcome guest blogger Maddie Pust. Maddie says this about herself: “I grew up in Olympia Washington with lots of pets! Four years ago, I moved just across the border to attend the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Now I am getting my Master of Management through the same school and am looking forward to spending more time with my four cats and Australian shepherd, Lily, while studying online!”
Growing up with a dog was an experience I’ll forever cherish. Like a lot of kids, my sister and I were obsessed with animals and frankly still are. When we moved to a new house with a new yard we scoured Petfinder for a dog to match. We came across a fluffy, brown teddy bear of a puppy that we had to have.
Soon after, we were picking up our new playmate, Tessiebear, at the shelter. From the puppy phase, till she was old and greying, Tessie did look like a bear. As a German shepherd mix, she was built sturdy and strong, intimidating if you didn’t know her. We never found out what she was mixed with, but it gave Tessie her signature chocolate color, reminiscent of a brown bear. The women who found Tessie and her litter, actually thought Tessie was a bear cub amongst all her classic German shepherd colored siblings.
As bearish and as she looked, around me and my sister she was a gentle giant. Tessie was my fellow snow angel, forest explorer, and even dress up princess on occasion. What I remember most was how loyal and smart she was, ever protective of her loved ones. She took it upon herself to patrol the neighborhood, keeping out pesky deer and scaring away raccoons. She provided this service not only to my house but to my neighbors as well. We lived down a long driveway that my neighbor would ride his tractor down to pick up their mail. One day Tessie joined him and his tractor broke down, leaving him stranded at the end. Tessie, sensing something was wrong, went back up to his house where his wife was waiting and barked and barked until she followed him out to the broken tractor.
When I was in high school, her chin became flecked with grey. Our playtime turned into late-night TV watching and me attempting to brush her thick, perpetually shedding coat. Although I remember her as the cutest puppy you ever saw, I was young myself, so it’s the older memories that I remember the most. Growing up with Tessie taught me of the positive impact that our furry friends can have on our wellbeing, and how much love and respect they deserve in return. Watching Tessiebear get old was one of the hardest things, but the joy and love she brought vastly outweighed any sorrows. That’s is why I am so taken with Old Dog Haven’s mission, and I know Tessie would be too.