Every once in a while a dog comes into your life and changes everything.
Story by Mike
Photos by Mary
It was summer. We made the decision to extend our family. We viewed the photos online. We had to meet her.
We made the drive two hours south. My wife and I never had a family dog…therefore, neither had our kids. It would be the first for all of us. This was the summer of 2009. Were we really going to do this?
Daphne, the beautiful boxer, immediately won our hearts. Life for her and us was about to change.
She was 4 years old when we adopted her. Not a puppy, but every little kid in the neighborhood called her a puppy. In fact, 8 years later, despite the soft, tired eyes and grey whiskers, an entirely new group of little kids could he heard uttering..…”puppy”.
Daphne, her adopted name, which we couldn’t bare change when we adopted her—was small by boxer standards—at around 50-55 pounds most of the time. She was not a purebred and we are not even certain of the mix, but we know one thing for certain—we allowed her into our home and she changed our lives.
She did not always play well with other dogs. She always played well with kids. And, she followed her family everywhere. It was her personality. Whenever one of us relaxed on the couch, watched TV, worked on homework, etc…Daphne would follow, as would her howl….until her bed was moved from one room to another so that she could be next to us. In the beginning it may have been bothersome….how soon it became something that never failed to bring a smile to our faces. Little things with Daphne. Every time.
We do not know the life of Daphne in her early years. We know she was abused. It took a while with her in the beginning. Then, just like that…. she was content. She knew we were going to protect her. We knew she was part of our family. She was there when the kids came home from school. She was there when my wife and I came home from work. She was there to play fetch with, walk with, chase with, howl with, bask in the sunshine with, nap with and chill out on a Friday night and watch a movie with…just be with.
Over the years Daphne endured her ups and downs when it came to her health. We actually thought this day would happen a few summers ago. Her health was weak. And, the average age of a boxer is 9-10 years. She bounced back. Again it happened. She bounced back. And then again….she bounced back. She woke us up every morning.
There was no wake up Wednesday morning. Cuddled in her bed she so loved. So peaceful.
In this sad time, I sit. I write. I remember….so clearly the drive south 8 years ago on I-35. The drive that gave my family memories that will last a lifetime.
When we first met.
Picking up Dad at the airport, waiting for the plane to land.
Hayward summer vacation.
At the Sullivan cabin.
Christmas card photo.
Waiting to be fed. The drool bubble.
On a walk along the shore of Lake Superior.
Another summer vacation in Hayward.
Watching the kids as they leave for the bus stop.
Halloween – the boxer with the boxer jack o’ lantern.
Family Christmas photo gone awry.
Fetch in the snow.
Summer vacation in Hayward. A family tradition
On the sandy beach at the Sullivan cabin.
Out on the farm, running through the fields.
And another summer vacation in Hayward.
Hartley Park in the fall.
Portrait of a boxer. By Sophia.
Playing in the freshly fallen snow.
Glorious sunshine on the deck.
At the Sullivan cabin with the whole family.
Back in Hayward on vacation.
Hayward summer vacation.
After the big summer storm.
In the fall leaves.
Thanksgiving in the Twin Cities.
Fetch in the snowy backyard.
In the back seat with Sophia. Heading home after a road trip.
Soaking up the sun on a lazy Sunday morning.
Her final day. Enjoying the mid-day sunshine when I came home to spend my lunch break with her.
The final foot steps.
You are forever in our hearts.