Evidently, I was a pretty mischievous little kid and my family was always telling stories of what funny things I did. I heard these stories so many times that I’m not sure if I remember the incidents or if I have a false memory based on the stories. But I am pretty sure that my first real memory is of our collie, Blaze. He was a real-life Lassie and from the day I was brought home from the hospital became my self-appointed guardian. According to the stories, he never left the side of my crib.
What I remember is throwing a tantrum because i had to go down for a nap. The kind of tantrum that hurts to watch. The kind of tantrum that turns your face red from not being able to breath between the screams. Blaze jumped into my crib and laid down. I was instantly calmed by his presence. I remember being enveloped in the feathers of his coat and I curled my little body into his. He leaned his head against mine and there we slept. That became the norm for nap time. I refused to lay down unless Blaze was with me. I didn’t need a blanket or a pillow – I just needed my dog.
Growing up in the 60s, we had a lot of unsupervised time outside away from the parents but never away from Blaze. We lived on a corner lot in a small town in Massachusetts where everyone knew each other but occasionally a stranger would come to town. One day while my older brother and I were playing outside a man walked into our yard and started to ask us to help him find his puppy. We didn’t know this guy and more importantly, Blaze didn’t know this guy. If you’ve never seen a collie with their hackles up, well it is a sight. The low guttural growl that started in Blaze’s belly and amplified out through his nose was enough to scare the man away but Blaze didn’t stop there. He chased that guy for a few blocks before coming back to his post over us.
I never feel safer than I do with my dogs to this day. And I always fall asleep fast when snuggling with pups!