AND THEN AGAIN…….by Tamara Pettit

…… Shannon lost her best friend Leo Friday. He finally succumbed to congestive heart failure, a medical problem which plagues many Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.    A piece of our hearts went with him, but  a piece of Leo thankfully also remains in our hearts.    Leo came into Shannon’s life, and thus into mine,  seven years ago.  Much like people,  I believe dogs have a purpose in their lives.  Leo was a giver, pure and simple.  He was calm, loving and imprinted himself on his mistress.   His purpose, I think, was to be by her side this past year as she adjusted to being alone after many years of being married.  He was always there to greet her when she came home to an empty house.  A good friend who had spent many years alone once  described her pet “another beating heart in the house.”  Leo was that and much more.

…Leo devoted himself to Shannon…and I by osmosis, benefited as well.  I was going through a bit of a rough patch when Leo was a puppy and my daily schedule soon changed to include a stop at Shannon’s after getting the mail.  While I loved seeing my daughter on a daily basis, Leo was the real attraction.

….My late sister, Marsha, was always a dog person.   I can never remember a time when  there was not a dog in the Webster household.  For many years my life did not expand enough to include a dog.     Marsha knew of my relationship with Leo, however, and just like sisters often do, she knew me before I acquired the protective shell that allowed me to function in the world of politics and kept me at arms- length from committing to  a dog.    Shortly before she died four years ago,  she made Shannon promise to make me get a dog.  She felt I needed one.

….Shannon took that promise seriously and began a relentless six-month campaign to find me a dog.  By that time, Bill was in the picture and he was an easy sell.  He was a long-time dog lover.  But, despite all her efforts, I could not find the dog that ‘spoke’ to me like her Leo did.   Many times before  leaving her house and discussing the right dog for me,  I would plead, “just give me Leo!”

……And, then one night I was looking at the same puppy site where she purchased Leo when I spied a dog….imperfect like Leo, too big for his breed, a little white hair in the wrong place and the last one left in his litter.   He ‘spoke” to me and without saying a word to either  Shannon or Bill I had my credit card out and had put a deposit on him.  “We’re going to Columbus Saturday,” I said to Bill.  “We  just bought a dog.” And Max entered our world

…..In a nano second on that drive home from Columbus I had become a dog person….heck I had become a dog lover….and within a few months I became a dog mommy.  

 ….. Dogs I discovered are the best of us.    They are  part of us that is faithful, loyal, always loving, never judgmental and always supportive. Leo sustained Shannon through rough times.     It is ironic that one year after Shannon moved into her new house and began the most challenging year of her life alone ….Leo would leave her.   It was a difficult good bye.  We thank the Arner Funeral Home and Pete Arner who made that difficult day a little easier.

……Shannon’s kids asked her “What can we do?” She replied “Even though I may say I don’t want the heartache of losing another pet, when it’s time take me by the hand and help me find another dog.”  She recognizes that while pets bring heartache they also bring tremendous joy.  And, she knows that while her next dog won’t be Leo, he will be wonderful and just perfect for her next stage in life.