The Passion of a Little Girl

The year is 1979.  The town is Wichita, Kansas.  I am three years old.  Playing outside is one of my favorite things, but playing with friends outside is even better.

Samson and Sheba are my favorite friends. They are beautiful. Samson’s hair is light blonde like mine. It’s wavy, but gets really curly when wet.  Sheba’s hair is short, sleek, shiny, and black.

They are my very best friends in the whole wide world.  We do everything together.  We play.  We laugh.  We explore.  We run.  We nap.  Sammy even lets me have piggybacks on him and Sheba offers me an endless supply of kisses.  I love them.  And I love my life.


Life seemed so simple at that age.  Playing outside for hours on end and getting dirty with friends was it for me.  I loved my best friends more than anything.  And they loved me. They were mine. They were loyal.

They were dogs.

Sammy (that’s Samson’s nickname) was a golden retriever and shepherd mix.  Sheba was a black lab.  Sheba was calm, reserved, and regal.  Sammy was goofy, happy, and always smiling.  They both exuded love, and of course, slobber and kisses.

My mother rescued them when they were only a few weeks old.  You could fit each one in the palm of your hand.  They were part of our family, but strictly “outside” dogs – a concept that seems so strange and foreign to me now.

Sammy and Sheba ruled the back yard.  I remember the path along the fence line of our yard that Sammy had created from casing the perimeter of the yard multiple times a day, wearing down the grass to what eventually looked like trails.  Sammy was our protector.  Sheba was our soulful girl.

Playing with my best friends in our backyard was heaven.  We would play for hours.  They were always one step in front of or behind me, always watching out for me.  I would crawl into their simple but sturdy wooden dog houses that my father had built.  Once I had squeezed my way into their house they would come in after me, excitedly licking my face then squishing me with their massive, warm, furry bodies.  We would sit there until I was too hot or had enough and was ready to get out.  Then we would run and chase, play and hug, and get dirty some more.

They were my family.

We communicated with each other as if they were my real brothers and sisters.  I knew how they felt. I understood what they wanted, and they did the same for me.  There was true peace and happiness being in the presence of those two animals.

That was bliss to me.  Still today, when I am running, playing, or find myself covered in soil, hair, feathers, scales, or slobber I am happy and at peace.  Being with animals is one of the greatest enjoyments on Earth for me.  And yet, somehow, even at three years of age, I knew that I wanted to experience that happiness and connection with animals  for the rest of my life.

Nearly 37 years later this is still true.  Even looking at the picture of my two best furry friends from childhood brings me to tears. That was joy.


Animals of all shapes and sizes have been one of the greatest joys in my life from the moment I came into this world.  As early as I can remember when I was asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  My answer was emphatically, “A veterinarian!”  To me, a veterinarian was someone who helps and heals animals. I just knew that I wanted to be like that.

Well, three decades later I am still someone who helps and heals animals.  Whether it’s an insect, a dog, or frog, animals have always been on the receiving end of my assistance. All species of life are near and dear to me; I have never seen them as lesser than me; they have always been my equal.  But I have noticed that the roles have changed a bit nearly forty years later.

They are all helping and healing me.

The passion I had at three years of age has taken many forms throughout my life, from exploring vet school, completing a degree in Wildlife Management, working in nature centers, a highly accredited zoo, and beyond. I accomplished that little girl’s dream, but I still have many more dreams to fulfill with animals and nature.

I think back to being a little girl.   I had no fears.   I was filled with a sense of adventure, exploration, and complete adoration of the animals of the land, sea and sky.   That fire was ignited as a child and it will always be in me.

I am still on that mission.


I have created this blog to explore the many adventures, mishaps, and lessons that I have learned from my animal companions (and nature) and to share them with others.  By doing so, I hope to help others better understand their animal companions and improve their relationships with them.  I also hope to help other Empaths better understand the delicate balance that we need, and how animals and nature can in fact, help us heal and grow in ways we never expected.

There is always more to learn and explore and many adventures to be had.

But for now, I think I’ll go outside and get dirty with my dog.

Summer of 1979 with Samson and Sheba ~ my two best friends

 


Dogs are our link to paradise. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring — it was peace. ― Milan Kundera





 

Safety Note:  Riding on dogs and smothering them with hugs is not in a child’s (or dog’s) best interest.  Fortunately, Sammy and Sheba were very patient, accommodating, and inviting with the way I showed them affection.  As you can see, Sheba’s moth is open – a sign that she is not uncomfortable with me leaning on her.

Today I now teach workshops on how to show our canine companions true affection  without compromising their stress levels or our safety.  You can learn more about dog hugs, and dog and child safety here and here.

38 thoughts on “The Passion of a Little Girl

  1. kfradella

    So glad to see this! What a blessing to all of us parents of the fuzzy, furry and scaly! I’m sure I will be using your expertise and knowledge in the future. What a beautiful and inspiring story! May you have much success and happiness in your future endeavors and adventures. We are all connected my sister, Mitakuye Oyasin.
    Many Blessings,
    Touches the Water

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amy, what a beautiful story – so captures your passion and love for your dogs and all the animals lucky to have been touched by you. I know that you will be so successful in this venture – a perfect one for you. Much love and blessings to you each day of this journey. Mom Theresa

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nan Davis

    I am so proud of you and your first Blog! Your love and your passion for animals just continues to grow and inspire others. I am very excited for you and look forward to your progress! I love you! Mom

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Krista Jacobsen

    Yay! or should I say…”yayness!” I’m so happy you launched your blog! I think it’s wonderful that you’re addressing both practical and spiritual aspects of critter companionship, as our animal friends are indeed so spiritual and can show us a thing or two about character. Freya would approve 🙂 I look forward to your entries!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jeff Davis

    Hey, very well worded and heart-felt. Problem for me is that the 30 year guilt I have felt for giving those dogs away now makes me feel worse! What can I say; those realtors played me with the line “it’s too hot in Florida for dogs” and I bought it. What does that mean, no one in Florida has a dog?! I guess this is just one more example of how imperfect your dad is (but you already knew that!) Anyway, your piece was very well done and I am proud out you. Love, Dad

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  6. kfradella

    Hi, question here: So my little kitty Fog is totally deaf because, they say, from water on the brain. When I adopted her she was almost totally blind as well. What a challenge! Many frustrating months of helping her find the litter box and basically trust and bond with me and her animal companions. Here’s the thing – lately she has shown signs of seeing clearer. I have been watching her the past few months and she is seeing things a little better than before, a definite improvement . She had never looked at my face though. She always looked “around” my face and smells me very closely to make sure it’s mommy. Well, a couple of weeks ago, FOG LOOKED DIRECTLY INTO MY EYES! She continues to do this on a regular basis. Is that possible? Can her sight actually be coming back, or has come back completely!? Or am I just a mother looking for any sign of hope that my baby is seeing? (sigh)
    Thanks a bunch for any shed of light! (no pun intended)
    Kathleen

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    1. Erica

      As a fellow animal trainer it is possible for an animal that was blind to have some sort of vision. Don’t expect that it is the vision the way another cat would see, but it is possible to have an animal that was blind regain some sort of vision. At the Zoo where author of this blog and I once worked, there was a hawk that hit a car and lost vision in booth eyes. After 2 years of working with her I could see as one of her primary handlers that she was beginning to react to stimuli that she did not react to before. She could not see like a hawk is supposed to see but she could see shapes that scared her because she was not used to seeing them. It is possible.

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    2. Kathleen, What a wonderful, compassionate and PATIENT soul you are to adopt a blind and deaf cat! That is incredible. Many people would assume that euthanasia is the only option for a blind and deaf feline, but clearly you knew Fog could thrive!

      I am not qualified to diagnose Fog’s condition, but if you are seeing positive changes in her behavior, that is always a good sign! I do believe that animals heal more quickly than humans. Miracles do happen every day, especially when we allow them. Continue to support her Kitty Kingdom within your home. I am sure that Fog will continue to thrive with your love, and encouragement and patience. Who knows. Maybe one day she will look at you, directly in your eyes. Even though the image of you is not crystal clear to Fog just yet, I am sure there is gratitude in those kitty eyes ❤

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    3. I’m not sure what Fog’s actual eye problems are, but many years ago, my family adopted a blind kitten, Kittie Boy, that was very young and sickly. My sister was actually the first one to take him home, and the vet told her that no matter what she did for him, he was so sick and tiny that she could wake up any morning with a dead kitten on her hands. His eyes were completely useless to him, gummy and scabbed over with infection. My sister had the unfortunate job of putting ointment into each eye twice a day, which of course was not too fun for Kittie Boy either! But well, long story short, K.B actually DID regain sight in one of his eyes and grew up to be the sweetest, most fun-loving wise soul that we’ve ever known in a feline companion! One eye never recovered and remained pretty yucky and atrophied for the rest of his long life, but he had a secure fan base to care for him with pleasure!

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      1. kfradella

        Sarah that’s an awesome story! Kitty Boy sounds like a wonderful kitty 🙂 My little Fog is growing up to be so sweet and loving too. Thank you for sharing Kitty Boy’s story. It does give me hope for my baby!

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  7. Erica

    it is very inspiring how animals can touch us so easily and those memories last forever. It is our duty as animal owners to give them the best of care.

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  8. What a good idea, Amy!
    As a person who feels a strong connection to animals, especially my canine family members, I hope this will be a vehicle for greater understanding and becoming better stewards of the precious relationship we share with all animals.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Monie Davis

    Amy, thank you for introducing me to Samson and Sheba! What awesome friends they were and teachers, also! I am so proud of you and I support your mission as you share the lessons you have learned through this medium. I wish you much success and joy in the journey. Love you, Monie

    Liked by 1 person

  10. kfradella

    Erica, thanks so much for your reply. I believe that what I’m seeing is Fog reacting to stimuli that she never reacted to before, just like the hawk you described. So it is possible! Reading your post has given me hope and validation. My baby girl’s vision will never be like other feline’s, as you say, but I take heartfelt comfort in knowing that she sees something and makes it work for her. She has adapted so well with her limitations and has brought me much joy. She’s a blessing to our home and to the other animals in which she shares her world with.
    thanks again Erica!
    Kathleen

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  11. kfradella

    My grand-dog, Angel, cut herself yesterday on something in the yard. My son called me and we rushed her to the vet who decided not to stitch her. She said that, although she could have used one or two on her leg, she would heal quite fine without them. Also, she told him to leave the wound open. Angel is on pain meds, ointment and antibiotics. Does this sound okay? I just called my son to check on her and he said Angel was running around like nothing happened. I know she’s a vet, but I always like to get 2nd and 3rd opinions. I’ve seen too many quacks out there (unfortunately).
    Thanks guys….

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    1. Kathleen, I am not surprised at all to hear that Angel is acting like it never happened. Animals are incredibly resilient with injuries. When had our puppy’s rear dewclaws removed (for her safety) during her recent spay and she didn’t need ANY pain meds! She was running around, ready to get back to play as soon as the surgery sedative wore off.

      Can you imagine how most people would respond to a major surgery and an appendage removal like that?? Have you noticed how when humans have been injured or are recovering from surgery, they tend to dope themselves up on pain meds and wallow around in their chosen misery. How could anyone or anything heal with that way of thinking or behavior?

      One of the qualities that I respect most about animals is that they never feel sorry for themselves. They are always ready to bounce back and LIVE LIFE. I think humans can learn a lot from animals in this regard ; )

      As for Angel, it sounds like you all made the right choice by taking her to the vet. Unless she seems like she really needs the pain meds, I wouldn’t keep her on them. Keep the wound clean. If she is already playing and romping around, she could re-injure herself or open the wound. Please keep us posted on how she is healing!

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  12. Amy Lynch

    Amy, honestly, when does the Touch-of-Sisterness end? My first dog was named Sheba. I was eight when my Mom and I moved to Massachusetts. My Dad had to find her another home. I was heartbroken and have thought about her throughout my life. My Father still gets choked to discuss it and still has tremendous guilt over giving her away. The love I have for Sheba has followed me and I am grateful I for that love I had with her. It has made me a more compassionate person. I am so excited about your blog and am anxious for your next writing! LOVE YOU!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. kfradella

    Amy thanks so much for helping me to better understand why Angel is already running around. Yes, you are absolutely right!!! Humans should take notice from the animals. I will try not to keep her on medication as you suggested. Our biggest concern is her re-injuring it. She seems to be okay with it today, acting as though we are fussing over her for nothing. I will write more about her “behavior”. LOL Her daddy needs to spend more time with her but has long work hours. Any suggestions? She’s kind of crazy when he comes home or when people come around.

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  14. kfradella

    Oh, and thanks for the compliments Amy! I knew in my heart Fog needed to be with me and no one else! Everyone thought I was crazy and one of my sisters suggested putting her down. No way! Not on my watch!!

    Like

  15. Amy, I am so happy to see this blog! If ever there was a person that puts all her heart and soul into the care of our furry/scaly/feathery friends, it is you. What a good idea, to have a forum here for animal lovers to share and receive information. I can’t wait to see how it develops!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I also wanted to add my little story about being conscious with our companions that I thought you’d appreciate. We’ve talked about my two little Bichons, Henri and Jean Paul, and how they get along with us humans AND each other. They were two little handfuls after our son Liam was born, and it was quite difficult trying to co-exist as a family.

        One of the main problems (besides jealous behavioral issues that are obvious now, like pottying on the rugs and chewing baby toys), was that Henri was almost constantly plagued by hot-spots that he would gnaw until they were bloody, completely tearing out the hair on his gorgeous white tail. The vet told us these were allergy problems, and its true that both dogs have plenty of allergies. But no traditional allergy remedy seemed to work at all for Henri. We also had high anxiety about an incident when Henri snapped at Liam’s face when he was about a year old. We were at a loss!

        UNTIL…

        We really started listening to the dogs and paying attention to what was actually going on. To make a long, long, LONG story short, we realized that Jean Paul (my “first born”) couldn’t come to grips with me transferring the bulk of my attention to a new baby, and so he transferred his own loyalty to my mother and decided that she was his master. She lives right down the street, and we see her almost everyday, so it wasn’t such a big deal as it could have been to lose Jean Paul as a core family member when he moved in permanently with her. He is so much happier now!

        And Henri! He has no more hot-spot problems and is so relaxed and gentle with Liam now. Jean Paul was the alpha of the pair and, with his unhappiness and jealousy, he was terrorizing poor Henri, the lowest on the totem pole. We didn’t see it at first, being so pre-occupied with the baby, but it is plain as day with hind-sight. Poor Henri, he wasn’t getting much love from anyone!

        Our solution of letting jean Paul live with my mom was pretty dramatic, and one that was hard at first. Giving up a dog!!! But, sometimes the animal solution is more important than the human emotions involved, as I’m sure you know very well! Our lives just fell into place when we started really listening to these important household members’ opinions, too.

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  16. Paula Fortier

    What an inspiration to animal lovers everywhere! Not to mention that adorable photo of you as a precious little girl with your beloved canine companions! Like you and Amy Lynch, I was also graced with a Sheba. She was a wolf-gray Alaskan Malamute that I loved for two years before she journeyed to the Rainbow Bridge. I took her passing hard; ten years, in fact, before I mustered the courage to love another dog. Enter Josephine and Wyatt, followed shortly by Daisy and Doc. You know the rest of this story! Now, many moons later we are blessed, once again, with the majestic and handsome Caesar. I raise my glass to you and all of our animal guardians and their masters!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paula, I had no idea you had a Sheba, too! That is so cool. For all of the years that I have known you and your furry family, I did not know that you waited 10 years before you accepted another 4-legged love machine into your life! I now know that they find us. ~Divine timing for sure. Such blessings!

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  17. Jeff Davis

    Amy: Love the pic of Ms. Hocus looking out the window! Tell her Oakely wants you all to come visit him again. He needs some animal enrichment; he is tired of rearranging his room during the day!

    Liked by 1 person

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