I’m embarrassed to admit I visited the animal shelter so often that I know some of the dogs awaiting adoption recognized me. Yet, Emil and I hadn’t felt a connection, that inexplicable spark convincing us a certain dog had been waiting just for us.

In the last 25 years, we’ve shared our lives on our farm with three dogs. This cast of colorful canines has brightened our lives!  

Luke Was Our First Teammate

1996 – Before there was a local animal shelter, Emil picked Luke out of eight puppies in a wire pen sitting outside the vet’s office. While his siblings frolicked, Luke moseyed over wagging his tail. Luke already had figured out that Emil was a good guy. The two were inseparable for 12 years.

2000 – Although Luke was generally Mr. Congeniality, he took his responsibility of keeping wildlife out of our yard very seriously. A growl that started deep in his throat was most impressive.

1997 – Although Luke was a friend to young and old, strangers were reluctant to get out of their vehicles until they were reassured it was safe to do so. Luke had very, very sharp and healthy teeth.

2008 – Toward the end of his life, Luke needed a little help to get in Emil’s Gator. It was always Luke’s preferred mode of transportation and his ticket to lots of fun farm adventures.

Cody Emigrated from Houston

In the late 1980s, Cody gladly wore a red winter coat to please my mother-in-law, Geri, who dressed up as Santa. When she was away quilting, Cody would hop up in the lap of my father-in-law Pete, but abandon him as soon as Geri walked in the back door.

In 1997, after Geri and Pete died, Cody’s future looked grim. There was talk that he should be put down, so we brought Cody home to stay. Luke had such a big heart that he welcomed the orphan with no reservations. In fact, they shared bones, taking turns gnawing away on them. We laughingly called Luke and Cody ‘the twins.
In 1998, Cody rapidly turned his back on city life and developed a zest for rural living. The only thing he asked was to be part of every activity, including keeping me company in my office. One day when I was interviewing a Fortune 500 CEO on the speakerphone, Cody had one of his coughing attacks. The hacking racket stopped the conversation dead, but fortunately, the CEO was a big dog lover.

Kally Was Our Third Partner

In 2008, after Luke and Cody had left us in old age, we noticed a sweet pup named Baby in the local animal shelter’s weekly ad. When we walked up to her pen, she fixed us with a placid stare and slightly wagged her tail as if to say, “It took you long enough. Let’s go home. And oh, by the way, change my name.”
By 2020, Kally and I walked many, many miles together. Also, wherever Emil drove his Gator through our pasture and woods, she trotted alongside, regularly drifting off a little to check tantalizing smells and follow intriguing fresh trails. After she returned from being spayed, Kally vowed to never again ride in a truck or car. She didn’t want to leave our farm and she didn’t. For the rest of her long life, the vet came to see Kally, not the other way around.
In early 2021 as I stroked Kally’s head for the last time, I wondered if she will be waiting at the Rainbow Bridge. It’s that mythical place just this side of heaven where cherished pets restored to the best of health happily play until the day they are reunited with their beloved humans.

There will never be another Luke, Cody or Kally. Would you believe there was a dog out there looking for a new home waiting for us? But that’s another story.

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Elaine Thomas
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