Our first dog was ‘Perry’ – my son named him. It seemed like a soft name for such a big protective dog. We got Perry as a puppy. His job was to protect us – we had a break-in while I was at work and some teen criminals stole my kids’ electronics and other items. The policeman who came out said a dog was the best deterrent to that kind of crime…so we got a dog. A dog we expected to be about 35# – but grew to 100#. He was a big handsome boy. When strangers came around(or anyone who didn’t live here at my house, including extended family), he would curl back his lips, show his enormous teeth and growl. No doubt he would kill to protect us.

Perry seemed to know that different family members required different actions on his part. Perry rough-housed and slept on the floor with my son. He followed me around like a puppy and lay on my feet to warm them. With my daughter, well, he seemed to know she needed quieter attention. He would run ahead of her, lay down and roll over so she could rub his tummy. That move was just for her.

While he was very protective of me, in particular, he never went after my daughter when she screamed at me or attacked me. He would go hide under the dining room table until the tantrum-storm had passed.

He did antagonize my daughter in one way, though. He had a taste for Barbies. He liked their little shoes, their children and their heads. We had more than one horrible Barbie massacre.

When Perry had to be put down(it was unavoidable), my daughter was away in a temporary placement. She was so very sad that she had not been able to say ‘goodbye’. When my daughter came home, we decided we would look for another dog when we were all ready.

I had in mind a handsome, mostly black, shepherd mix male…and we (my daughter and I) went to see what was available at the pound. They were running a special – all dogs over 45# were free for the cost of a dog license – all shots and neutering included. The worker asked what I wanted and I gave them the description I had in mind – adding that the dog needed to be ok with small children, this was to accommodate my daughter’s behavior. The worker asked if this would be an inside dog. I responded ‘yes,’ and before the ‘s’ came out of my mouth, she said she had the dog for us, the perfect dog for our situation.

She brought out the ugliest dog I have ever seen. Half the hair on the tail and ears was missing. She(not even a boy dog!) had just weaned puppies. Her white hair was thin and you could see through it – black freckles on pink skin. Her face had no expression and she seemed to be saying ‘duh.’ She was skinny, sadly underweight. But this dog let my daughter walk her on a leash and was completely attentive to my daughter. This dog never flinched when we walked past loud, barking dogs or mewing cats. This dog never stopped looking at my daughter for direction. And this dog pranced when she walked like she was a fancy french poodle. Well, of course, my daughter was smitten.

The pound had given her a name – just for the website. It was the same name as my niece(my lovely niece was really not interested in having an ugly dog named after her). Since I call everyone ‘sweetie’ anyway, we began calling the dog ‘Sweetie’ – and we never bothered to pick a real name. The pound waived the adoption fee even though Sweetie did not meet the weight requirement. I think they were just happy to adopt out this homely pitbull mix dog. Apparently, no one played with Sweetie when she was a pup, so she doesn’t play. She only recently (she is six years old approximately) started barking – she learned that from our other pound dog. Sweetie is like a big(60# now), lazy cat. She wants to sit on your lap when she feels like it.

On the plus side – she has NEVER had any accident in the house and was completely housebroken from day one. And she never developed a taste for Barbie flesh or fashion.

On the way home from the pound, my daughter started crying, actually weeping; she mumbled, “I love this dog so much.” Now my daughter is away in a residential placement; my daughter was only here with Sweetie for about a month (I will write more about that later), but she loves this dog. And I have no doubt that Sweetie remembers my daughter. Every time I visit my daughter, Sweetie sniffs my clothes and wags her tail. I think she knows that I have been hugging her real master.

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