This I Believe

Jessica - Indianola, Iowa
Entered on September 5, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I have always been an animal lover and more specifically a dog lover. Since I can remember I had always been begging my parents for a dog even if the begging was in the form of pointing and grunting because I couldn’t speak yet; there are pictures to prove this. Finally all my birthday wishes came true in second grade when my father brought home Woody. He was a feisty beagle basset puppy that my father had rescued from the local human society.

It wasn’t long until we became instant companions and wherever I went Woody followed. As a puppy he had a fear of going down the stairs which was unfortunately where my room was but this didn’t keep him from waiting at the top of the stairs for me to come into sight; barking until he had my attention.

Although he didn’t have an adequate shoulder for me to cry on he had the patience to sit there while I hugged him or vented to him. He listened when I just needed someone to listen. He would watch me leave from our living room window and he would always be there when my car pulled up.

The majority of my childhood memories involve Woody. Moving from the house I grew up in, trips to the hospital, arguments, learning to drive and so many other issues a young girl faces. I always made it a point to include him and I would argue he made it a point to be included.

It may seem odd but I strongly believe that Woody had a paw in making me the young woman I am today. Without a word he was able to show me that loving unconditionally and acting loyally can make a difference in a person’s life.

As I grew up Woody grew up, however, we were not on the same pace; my one year was his seven and it began to take its toll on him. During my senior year of high school I decided to attend a local liberal arts college partially because of the financial incentives but mainly because I knew leaving him would be the hardest thing I’d ever done and deep down I was aware he wasn’t in condition to live without me. Of course he had my family but they weren’t me and if the time to say good bye came I wanted to be there.

On April 14, 2005, near the end of my first year in college my family was faced with the decision to put Woody to sleep. He had developed a condition in which his heart was too big for his body and it was working harder than his body could handle. I’ve always blamed myself partially for this because I knew how much he loved my family and especially me. It’s not his fault God gave him a big heart.

Saying goodbye to Woody was one of the hardest moments of my life. His presence still lingers and there is not a day that I don’t think about him and wish he was still alive. He will always be my best friend and even though he’s gone our friendship and love continues.

In conclusion, I’d like to end with a quote from author John Grogan found in his book, Marley & Me which I feel captures the true essence of what it means to understand the love given by a dog. “A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give them your heart and they will give you theirs.”