spacer
Thrive logo
spacer
spacer Log in | Register spacer
corner spacer corner
spacer
spacer
corner browseissues corner
spacer
spacer
spacer
corner spacer corner
spacer
corner popularlinks corner
spacer
spacer
spacer
corner spacer corner
corner spacer corner
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
corner spacer corner
spacer
spacer
corner spacer corner
spacer

My Dog Sister
By Tanya Sousa

I don’t know if Mom instinctively chose a puppy that was like her, or if the puppy chose her for the same reasons, or if it was all a coincidence.  What I do know is that the tiny mixed breed puppy Mom named “Simba” looked much like a lion cub with reddish-gold fur and a black face and had pride and personality to match.  She was a formidable lady, benevolent but alpha, exactly like my rock of a mother. My family had moved from a Massachusetts suburb to the wild Vermont countryside, settling on a long defunct farm complete with old wooden wagons and spiked metal tines hidden in tall field grasses, a decaying barn full of mysteries, and woods full of once lively logging trails.  There were endless opportunities to run and explore. I stayed outside for hours on end, my mother knowing I was in good hands with Simba.

Although we found Simba at a shelter, she was a queen without any question in her mind, and at four years old, I was already clear who was the wiser one of the two of us.  There was something almost magical to me about the dog’s confidence, and I can recall thinking of her as an older sister.  By the time I was five and she was just over a year old, I was following her about and learning valuable lessons with her guidance.  I trusted her wisdom because no one had taught me not to.  No one had said, “She’s only a dog”.  No one filled my head with ideas of animals being any less than me, lacking intelligence and running through life as near robots, functioning on rude instinct alone.  I only saw the wise sister’s confident dog grin, and saw her always looking back to make sure I wasn’t lost.  I knew if she told me something, it was true.

Dogs can’t speak like we can, but I knew what Simba said to me. She put her nose to the ground and moved with purpose, telling me there was an interesting animal ahead, and I must be quiet.  Sometimes it was a woodchuck we’d spy in a field.  Other times she led me to partridge and flushed them, leaving eggs by a tree base to investigate.  Once, it was a skunk, but the way Simba barked from a distance, I knew it wasn’t anything I wanted to be close to. By watching her and learning, I became crafty in my own right, approaching or watching snakes, frogs, and birds with stealth until I could grab them with a quick move.  I let them go after looking at them awhile.  When I caught something, Simba would sit back and look at me with a wide dog-smile and squinted eyes as if I’d learned my lesson well and she was satisfied.  I lived for that look.

She gave me sharp stares if I did something she wanted me to stop, and she refused to go where there was danger. On the second winter at the farm, snow pelted our rural north country and built up in record levels.  It was days before I could look out and see more than a few feet ahead of me, but when the sun finally came out again, the world was a wondrous vanilla-milkshake-coated land.  Simba said snow like this was marvelous to play in, and asked me outside by jumping and snapping at snow, then play-bowing before me with the mischievous twinkle in her eyes.  I always listened to Simba’s good ideas, so we raced out together, my human sister, Simba and I, bundled against the cold, holding sleds, and laughing wildly when we plummeted down fresh drifts with Simba running alongside grabbing my boots and pulling them off as she could.  It made me furious in a way when I was left with stocking feet in the snow while she raced away, tail waving and thoroughly pleased with her catch, but I never thought of punishing her.  She held rank, after all.

Later, after retrieving the boots, my human sister and I thought we would spend some time exploring the barn.  There seemed to always be a new discovery in there—stalls and mangers where horses once fed, bits of metal that had unknown purposes, leather straps, piles of hay, dark corners and places you feared to walk because the boards creaked and groaned even under small feet.  We had explored the barn many times with Simba leading the way and telling us where we should step and where we shouldn’t.  Mom always said, “If Simba won’t go there, then don’t go.” Wisely, she picked the best paths and enjoyed the forays as much as we did even though she had to be the responsible one at all times.

This snowy day was different.  We approached the barn doors, my human sister and I encrusted with balls of ice and Simba’s leg feathers similarly encumbered.  Suddenly, there was a flurry of angry barking, and we turned to see Simba facing the doors, hackles raised and practically frothing at the mouth with fury.  When my human sister moved to open the door, Simba snarled and snapped at the door again, and we both stepped back from whatever was agitating her so.  Our parents were on the house roof, shoveling snow piled at least two feet deep.  “There must be an animal or something in there!” Our mother called down to us.  “Stay out.”  She didn’t have to say a word.  We knew better than to disobey Simba’s directives.

The moment we turned from the barn doors, Simba stopped barking, but she continued to pace and behave like she was worried.  I didn’t know what awful creature could be inside the barn, but I knew it was nothing I cared to face.  Were there mountain lions here?  “Maybe it’s a rabid raccoon.” My father suggested.  My human sister and I had carefully climbed the ladder to be closer to our parents on the roof, and there was only the sound of the shovels “phloofing” into the snow, scraping along shingles, and then the snow floating and landing almost silently on a growing pile in front of the house.

The view was incredible, and I almost forgot about Simba pacing at the foot of the ladder when an ear-splitting, thundering crack pierced the air and then rumbled, vibrating throughout my chest.  Our heads snapped up just as the sound faded, and we watched in awe as the roof of the barn collapsed, the sound first, and then the fall, caving in with almost slow motion with some of the walls following until what was once a majestic old building was nothing but a crumpled heap and a milk house standing alone.

No one said a word for the longest time; at least that’s how I remember it.  There was no way for us to know the barn would collapse, but Simba had known.  If we hadn’t listened to what she told us, my human sister and I would have been inside at the very moment the beams gave out, and there wouldn’t have been a chance to get out in time.   I can’t recall what we did for Simba that night, but I know we would have recognized her deed.  You see, my parents were never the kind of people who thought animals were less than we are.  Simba was part of our family.  She was my wise Sister, and I’m thankful with my very life I didn’t grow up with the message that she was anything else.

Tanya Sousa Bio:

Creating and connecting people with the idea that all living things deserve respect and kindness are the two most important threads running through author Tanya Sousa’s life. “I love Einstein’s quote, …if you judge a fish by how well it climbs a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid, ‘ she said, ‘because that quote not only speaks to different forms of human intelligence, but different forms of intelligence overall. All living things are amazing — just differently gifted.’

Tanya has written children’s picture books (find her work at www.RadiantHen.com), magazine articles, and has also published a number of creative non-fiction pieces and essays. Contact her at naturese@together.net

Back to Stories

Share
spacer
COMMENTS (2) | animal companion, animal wisdom, dog, relationships
spacer

Comments

2 Responses to “My Dog Sister”

  1. Diane Schachter
    December 18th, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

    Tanya, I so enjoyed reading the story of your dog sister. I love how you describe your adventures and relationship with Simba. What a special dog and what an unusual,wonderful childhood you had with her.

  2. Tanya Sousa
    December 18th, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

    Hi Diane!

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I was so blessed to have her in my life AND to have the parents I had. Also, growing up in VT in the wild countryside was something not every child can enjoy. I try to pay it forward. Hope you had a lovely childhood too!

Leave a Reply





spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
corner spacer corner
spacer
corner spacer corner
spacer
newsletter
spacer
spacer
spacer
corner spacer corner
spacer
corner comments corner
spacer
  • Debra Grossman: Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. It nourishes my soul to learn of such special...
  • Jack russell: Really enjoyed reading the website. I have also have a website about this great dog.
  • Anonymous: Thank God for your blog. After 37 years of being married to an alcoholic,I’ve finally reached my...
  • Anonymous: Thanx 4 da truth
  • Sandra: I am from USA, i am 36 years old, i want to gladly give My testimony of how a spell caster dr.mac@yahoo. com...
  • g: Thank you for your words. As I navigate through marriage with children (11, 5, 3) and I am a stay at home mom, the...
  • Catherine Ellen Pettway: My husband and I married in 1988. He occasionally drank beer but not everyday. He came from...
  • Nic: Thank you Mike for your honesty and vulnerability. It helps to feel a connection with someone who understands...
  • Robert Goldsmith: Thank you for sharing that very intimate experience and your story. I’m married to an...
  • MANDI: Is this group still going? I love my husband and I knew what I was getting into when I married him. I knew he...
  • Kelly: Dear Keith, I hope you are at peace now. You are missed by many.
  • Delilah Campos: Dear LaVora, Thank you so much for sharing this intimate experience. I am deeply touched and...
  • Mary Ellen Bennett: Thank you so much. I am married to an alcoholic and I have watched him go through rehabilitation...
  • Tracy: Thank you for sharing your story with me Ivor. I’m so glad you had a loving supportive Aunt to guide you...
  • Joe Longo: Love this photo
  • Daniel Fontana: I know those kids,especially Snezana.Please send me their contact information.
  • Neyhaaa: I can’t thank you enough for sharing this. Yet, thank you.
  • Amy: My daughter is five and her dad is an alcoholic. I know we need to leave. We both own our house and I...
  • CPC: I think this is among the such a lot important info for me. And i’m happy studying your article. However...
  • online festival: Every year, people in India find different ways to celebrate the same festival, and perhaps this...
  • Karol: Listening to all the mother’s on here is overwhelming for me. I think about what all of you are going...
  • Vicki Osheka: This is my second marriage and I came from a non drinking family. Didn’t realize what I was...
  • Elle: Wel written article. My husband is walking around totally beligerant. Where he ends up making messes, he has...
  • Maren: Thank you for this! 3rd day on Cipralex and a glimmer of hope.
  • Anonymous: I ‘gave in’ recently. I am more hopeful than ever that things will improve for me after...
  • LindaJane Riley: I apologize to everyone who has commented. I didn’t know this story was still active. I would...
  • Rahulbh28: Dear Members, Please help me. . . I’m sharing my painful moments which my brother and my family...
  • rene: Yes i too lived the nightmare for 45 yrs..when in my marriage the last. 10 yrs my alcoholic lived in the same...
  • Grace: I typed in Google search, overcoming childhood loneliness because I am paying attention to some habits that I...
  • Casadina: I am so thankful that I found this website. I am like others on here and my alcoholic is passed out snoring...
  • Grateful: I cannot express how much I appreciate your story. I have been with my alcoholic for 11 years and I do not...
  • Vic: I stumbled upon this beautifully written article because I just “gave in” today. I just picked up my...
  • Carol: I have recently begun to admit that my husband is an alcoholic. My heart is broken… I am pissed… I...
  • TJ: Thank you for this article. You are the first person who seems to understand why I am still married to an...
  • sariah: I wept as I read your story. I am currently learning to detach as well after 20 years of marriage to an...
  • LaVora: Good luck, N. My experience may not be yours. However, I deeply believe that happiness is our birthright. You...
  • nk: Lavora, I am exactly here in my marriage – trying to turn it around. Rgds, N
  • Suzanne: Hi Martin and Cathy. Watched your documentary. You are a wonderful family. Everyone has their struggles, no...
  • admin: Thank you for letting us know. The link is now set to the their new WEB page. We have our dog from them.
  • Linda Jane Riley: About a year ago I was forced to take a step back from all things related to alcoholism. My...
  • SHerry: Your link to the rescue adoption site is for sale with no other info on the dogs.
  • Marleen: Thank you for sharing your story! That’s real inspirating!
  • Julie: Its 4:50am here. I can hear him snoring in the nursery. I brought the baby to bed with me.. He only snores...
  • ld: I thought I was suffering alone. The advice and comments make me feel better and gives me the strength to go on....
  • Sam: Hi Mike, Very poignant, “There are no grown-ups. We are all children in adult garments” is right on...
  • TJ: Thank You!!! Like “judy” commented above my mind was racing and I felt out of control… My life...
  • Karunakaran: It’s very nice.
  • judy: Thanks for ur writings… it really help my mind to calm down…. where can i go to talk with alot of...
  • Tanya Sousa: We certainly do have to change the way we respond, don’t we Paul? I’m encouraged though. I...
  • Paul Trainer: Thank you, Tanya, this is all so true. As someone who adores starlings too, I know that it is only when...
  • Cathy: In reading I see how difficult it is to be married to an alcoholic husband for 30 years and have now...
  • carrir: You took the words right out of my mouth. Xoxo
  • ceri: What an amazing story of love between step son and step father
  • Caney Texas: Hello! I’ve been reading your site for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and...
  • julie: what a wonderful article, she described me to a tee , it was nice to put words to the feelings , I am new to...
  • michele: I am hurting so badly right now, it is taking all the strength and coping ability I have just to get through...
  • denise morini: PLEASE understand that I do not feel redeemed……still 230;……..getting Lexi...
  • Carleen Quesenberry: Denise- It is perplexing that you would write a “feel good” story after you...
  • Jon: While I love the article, I caution those reading the post by “finally AM, me.” I was in a...
  • Wendy Noer: I felt like I was there, good story Melodee, keep writing. Let me know when you finish another one.
  • Anonymous: thank you
  • Sandi: This is great, Mel! Congratulations! I hope to see more of your writings – especially the novel...
  • Sherveen Ashtari: I never forget kind and terrific people, Alex!! :) I actually beat you to it and sent you an email...
spacer
corner spacer corner
spacer
Copyright 2010 thriveinlife.ca. All rights reserved. | Privacy Statement
spacer
spacer