When I was 10 or 11, I gave up on the idea of ever owning a horse and started begging my parents for a puppy instead. I saved my pennies to buy one, and eventually wound up with a beagle/poodle mix, which is now considered a designer doggie -- a poogle -- but then was just a plain-old dog.
Pepper was solid black, hence the name, and looked like a cocker spaniel. He learned how to shake hands and "sit pretty." He lived a good life -- most of it on the couch -- leaving this world when he was 11.
My parents begged off on getting another dog, insisting they were too old to go through puppyhood and house breaking again. And then came Tobey, an American foxhound, who was 2 years old, house-broken, and needed a good home. And he got one -- ours.
He was my dad's constant companion and the two of them could be seen walking the streets of the city daily. Dad was devastated when Tobey died of kidney disease. And this time, when they said no more dogs, they meant it.
When the next dog entered my life, our son, David, was 9. Tootise was a black cocker spaniel with a white stripe down her chest. We toyed with the name Oreo, after the cookie, but named her instead after a cocker spaniel Guy had known in his teen years.
The first Tootsie liked sledding and would ride in the boys' laps as they went down the hill. Only problem was, like most cockers, she accidentally peed when she got excited -- and sledding down a hill was pretty exciting. Our Tootsie didn't need anything that exciting -- she christened your shoes whenever she greeted you at the door.
When she was diagnosed with kidney disease, we knew that some day soon, she would no longer be with us. A year later, the time came. David, who was due to return to college 10 days later, decreed on the way home from the vet's that we had to get a puppy before he went back. Guy and I said no, we needed time before we even considered it.
So why, 36 hours after kissing Tootsie good-bye, did I write a check for a new dog? Because a 9-week-old ball of fur had cuddled into my neck and looked up at me with big green eyes. And we became, as we say now, "Sass-ified."
Her parents are chocolate Labs, all her litter mates are chocolate Labs. Sassy -- full and given name Berkshires Sassy Lady -- is a dark golden yellow with the green eyes and pink features of a chocolate Lab. She loves everyone she meets and is the joy of our lives. And then there's her tennis ball fixation ...
I've loved all of the dogs in my life, even though they've all been so different from one another. There is nothing like cuddling with a warm dog when you're not feeling well or life isn't going right. I love the way their feet smell like grass, and the happy dance they do when they are asked to go for a ride or play ball. I love coming home and having someone greet me at the door, happy to see me again.
For all the special dogs in my life, I've taken the time to bake homemade dog biscuits. They aren't hard to make, especially if you use a heavy-duty stand mixer. I have a dog bone-shaped cookie cutter, but any cookie cutter will work. It's important to roll the dough to the same thickness each time or the biscuits won't bake evenly. A word of warning: The Garlicky Gourmet Dog Biscuits are very aromatic while they bake.
Garlicky Gourmet Dog Biscuits
1 cup uncooked oatmeal
1/3 cup stick margarine
1 teaspoon boullion granules
1 1/2 cups hot water
3/4 cup powdered milk
3 tablespoons garlic powder
1 egg, beaten
3 cups whole wheat flour
In a large bowl, pour the hot water over the oatmeal, margarine and boullion granules; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in the powdered milk, corn meal, garlic powder and egg. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Knead 3 to 4 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to make a very stiff dough. Pat or roll dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with a cookie cutter and place on a greased cookie sheet. They may be placed very close together, since the dough doesn't spread during baking. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes. Allow to cool and dry out until very hard. Makes approximately 1 3/4 pounds. Peamutt Butter Bones
2 tablespoons corn oil
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup water
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, Combine oil, peanut butter and water. Add flour, one cup at a time, then knead into firm dough. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness and cut with a cookie cutter. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes 2 1/2 dozen.
Margaret Button is the city editor of the North Adams Transcript. Send recipes for inclusion in future columns to the North Adams Transcript, 85 Main St., Suite 2, North Adams, Mass. 01247 or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.