The dog who made me a dog person


Panda is the dog that made me a dog person. I had a dog as a young child. He was a perfectly fine dog but he lived most of the day outside, had no real training and when he was inside, he was so pleased to be around humans that he was just too much energy for me to really manage. At least, that's what I remember. It was a long time ago.

Then I had a couple of rodents. They did what rodents did and mostly put up with their human and then pooped or peed and I did not know really how to connect with them. I killed most plants I touched. What I'm saying is that I was pretty sure that I just didn't have what was needed to connect with other living things and I was probably more harm than good to them anyway.

In 2000, I met Leo and I really liked him and he really liked me and we liked each other enough that after only a few short months of dating, we decided to quit our jobs and move to the west coast. He had ferrets which were illegal where we were going, so we found a great local rescue, made an additional donation and headed out west. I knew going into this that Leo wanted a dog and I was pragmatic enough to know that the odds of our relationship lasting were something other than 100% so I figured he'd get a dog, it'd be his dog and I would hope I didn't mess anything up too horribly.

My friend is an animal trainer and the company she worked with had a litter of border collie/cattle dog mixes that had a role in a flea and tick commercial. Their human sold the litter to the training company because they'd been a surprise and he didn't want them. The training company quickly adopted them all out except for the last little girl. Her name was Houston

She peed on herself and then crawled up next to Leo. She had been living with trainers for a while so she had a solid sit, stay, speak, and a few other tricks in her arsenal. She was gentle and timid and not at all like dogs I knew. We paid our $1 adoption fee and took her home.

We named her Panda and I began to brace myself for ruined shoes and musky dog smells. But that didn't happen. I once saw her chewing on the tip of my plush Spongebob slipper and told her no in a lightly stern voice and that is the last time I recall her assuming anything was a toy that wasn't given to her to play with. She was eager to learn tricks, affection and energetic.

Panda was a very good girl.

When we lived in Los Angeles, Leo would go on day trips, driving all along the California coast to find dog-friendly places to play. In her life, Panda saw the entire west coast from Tijuana to the Canadian border. She was a nervous dog but not at the beach. At the beach, she was fearless and free.

Leo will hate me for posting this picture but back in her younger days, we'd invite her up onto the couch and she'd sit really close to one of us, push off from her front legs while stiffening her spin and fall onto our arm and rest her head on our shoulder. It was pretty cute.

She grew to love being on the other side of the camera. The sound of the shutter would perk up her ears and she'd come running from another room if she heard it. It was hard to take sock photos but I can't say I minded.

Panda was a really good girl.

When we adopted Thea, she was unsure how to deal with this crazy ball of energy and misbehavior, but she was never cruel. She'd been our only dog for six years and we had a quiet life. Thea shook that all up.

But Thea loved Panda right from the start and she won her over pretty quickly. They became fast and inseparable friends.

Throughout her life, Panda has always been a fetch machine. Neither of her siblings have ever come close to matching her athleticism when it comes to catching "the squirrel."

Panda has been my a central part of my family, my home, my life since 2001. This post could go on forever while I remember the things, big and small, that made her special to me. I could talk about her TV appearances and modeling gig. I could talk about the times she outsmarted us and times she comforted us. I have thousands and thousands of photos of her and looking at them now, I still remember all our wonderful adventures together. She changed me. She made me see the value in being patient and understanding. She taught me to be more gentle and thoughtful with others. I can say, without hyperbole, she made me a better person.

And now I have to learn to let her go. Her decline has been fast. While she was showing her age a bit a year or so ago, the past few months, and the past few weeks, especially, have been hard. We've treated what we could to ensure she was comfortable, but we've always agreed that we'd try to do right by her and not let her suffer. Today, she woke up barely able to walk, uninterested in food and her breath got progressively more labored. It was time. I love my sweet old lady. I will miss her. She'll always be the dog who made me a dog person.


Oh, Marnie. I'm so, so sorry to read this. You were obviously both very lucky to have one another, and I'm so sorry for your loss.

I'm sending lots of puppy hugs and kisses your way. Love all the pictures and loved your tribute to your sweet pup!

Oh, Marnie. I am so, so sorry to hear this. Panda was such a wonderful dog!

Sending you and your gang tons of hugs and happy wishes. You gave Panda the best life a dog could ask for! I recently lost my first dog incredibly unexpected after having her for only four months, all I can think of is all the fun stuff I never got to show her. All I can hope for is that somehow she finds me again some day so we can have those fun adventures I promised her. Take care!

I'm sorry's so hard to let them go.

Oh Marnie such a treasure she was. So loved and so happy. You were a good human for her and she a good fur baby. So hard when that time comes. I still miss Owen my Golden but know he is happily up there greeting all the new comers. May you have happy memories to help you.

Oh honey, I'm so, so sorry. So many internet hugs to you. RIP Miss Panda-I'll miss you too.

Love and good thoughts, always.

Marnie and Leo, I've loved seeing Panda in the knitting pictures for years. I can only imagine your loss right now. I'm a cat person but have lost a few over the years. Yet, the relationship with a dog is different. I'm so sorry for what you're going through.

Oh Marnie, Leo and furkids...I am so sorry, my heart just breaks for you all. Panda was my first internet dog love, I read every blogpost hoping there would be photos of her antics along with the knitting. What a true gift it is to have our dog-loves grow old with us though. The other pups will also grieve. My thoughts are with you.

Marnie and Leo, I am so, so sorry for your loss. I remember when you first got Panda-puppy. Her joy, all the beach photos, and the clear love all around. Even when new puppy arrived. Much love and many hugs to all three of you.

I'm sorry you've lost your dear Panda. It's such a gift that she let you know it was time, instead of letting you second-guess yourself. Fifteen years! Lucky dog

Oh, Marnie, I'm so sorry for your loss. I know your heart is breaking.
Love you bunches

Oh Marnie, I'm so sorry, this stuff is so hard. She had a long and wonderful life

Dear Marnie and Leo, Panda was a special girl. I am so sorry for your loss.

Read this again and the tears started again. Shared with my favorite girls/captains/off-to-college/friends/dog-personages.

luvya Toots!!!!!!

My heart is breaking for you. No companion could have been loved more than your beautiful Panda. Thank you for sharing your love and your grief in this intensely personal post.

i don't even know what to say. take comfort in the fact that you're respecting your life together by choosing the right time. i hope you all get some relief.

Sending lots of love.

Oh Marnie, I remember the day I connected with you when I saw Panda's Border Collie face. I can only imagine the pain you are feeling right now in having to let Panda take her trip across the Rainbow Bridge. My heart goes out to you and Leo. Snoopy, Joe and I send our love and many many hugs to your pack.

My heart goes out to you, I'm sorry for your loss. We love them so much and they give us back so much more than we could ever imagine, it's always difficult letting them go. I have enjoyed seeing Panda's life with you, Leo and Thea through your blog. I'll miss her too...

“You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.”
—Robert Louis Stevenson

Oh no. I thought this post was going there when I started reading it. I'm so, so sorry for your grief, and know exactly what you're all going through. All of us who give our hearts and homes to the dogs in our lives know that this will happen, and yet we do it anyway. They ask so little from us, and enrich us tremendously.

Panda was a precious girl. You've given her a wonderful life, and taken the hard choice for her at the end.

Love and sympathy.

love is the hardest and best thing.

My thoughts are with you. I had to let go of my little girl (a 13 year old Pug) about a year and a half ago, and I still think of her every day, talk to her box of ashes and stare at her pictures. They change our lives and ourselves unexpectedly and for the better. With deep sympathy - be well.

I am so very sorry to hear this news. Panda was a sweetheart, for so many years I have loved watching her adventures with her wonderful family . Such a heartbreak, and such bitter-sweet joy to have been able to love and be loved for a lifetime by one who's only goal in life was to give and receive the same. I lost my 10 year old golden girl a couple of days before Christmas and I still grieve. Our beagle still grieves. Dogs are such a blessing, how lucky we are when they let us share their lives. My deepest sympathies to you, Leo, Joe and Snoopy. With love.

Oh, what a lovely dog she was! I'm so sorry for your loss.

What a lovely life she had with you. I am sorry she is leaving you but so glad you have all of those memories

Thank you for sharing. I've loved reading your blog and was always delighted when you wrote about your dogs. I am so sorry for your loss. Reading this post brought tears to my eyes. Wishing you and your family comfort and time.

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This page contains a single entry by Marnie published on July 25, 2016 1:08 PM.

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