Dogs Make (almost) Everything Better

Kids can be so mean. When I was a little girl my feet turned inwards when I walked. To add to that I had almost no arch. So I had “special shoes” I had to wear every day. Because no one thought as much about kids then as they do now, there was zero style to special shoes. They looked like little white ankle booties. In other words, they looked like baby shoes.

I was the only child for a while. I was about 4 or 5 and bringing all my best toys outside to entice other kids to play with me. Some would stop, but the first thing they’d do is say “You wear baby shoes!” They’d only stay to play if one of my toys caught their eye – so I tried to have as many outside with me as possible.

Around this time, my parent’s beloved chihuahua, and my mother’s first “baby”, Pedro, passed away. He got in a fight with a Doberman over a female dog. Even if he’d won he couldn’t have mated with her – he was too little. But chihuahuas think they’re Dobermans – until they don’t. One well-calculated bite from that Doberman and it was adiós for Pedro. Knowing chihuahuas, Pedro probably started the whole thing, but tomatO/tomaHto, right?!

(This is Not Pedro)

(Not the ender of Pedro)


(Ferocious, but again, Not Pedro)


On that day Daddy made a decision. He would never again have a little dog that could die in a dog fight. He didn’t share this decision with my mom for reasons which will become obvious.

Months later, unbeknownst to my mother, he set his plan in motion. Then had a few beers and brought home a “surprise” he said was for my mom. A surprise she wouldn’t have asked for in a million years. She wanted a little lap dog, but Daddy walked in with an 8 week old Great Dane.  At 8 weeks he could already fill a grownup’s lap. She was so much less than thrilled. Way less. That didn’t make him any less ours. He was named Smokey Joe, or Smoke for short.

Great Danes grow so fast you have to give them special vitamins for their bones. Smoke was no exception. Wouldn’t you know that ours grew to become the largest Great Dane in the state at that time – weighing in at 175 pounds (& he would reach 185 later).

(What mom wanted vs what she got [that’s not Smoke])


So our little suburban backyard housed a dog the size of a small horse who could pick up a BASKETBALL with his mouth. In 24 weeks he went from about 20-25 pounds to being his full height and weighed about 100-110 lbs. He’d reach 175 within the full first year.

(Not Smoke)

(Again, not Smoke [wait for it….])

Our backyard connected to neighbors on 3 sides with a chain link fence between us. Imagine being our neighbors. If not dealt with daily, do you know what a gentle breeze means? Nothing pleasant, I assure you. It was as if we had a full grown man crapping in our yard – a lot! To keep the neighbors happy meant Daddy had daily yard duty. Cleanup on aisle 5 done by a man with a very weak stomach – daily.

Of course Mom fell in love with Smoke, which was awesome because Smoke turned out to be my very best friend. When I was being a little goblin, she’d have to spank Smoke first BEFORE she could get to me.

A dog can make things better. Even things that you, or in this case my Dad, didn’t realize needed improving. One, if Dad went out of town, no worries because we had the biggest, most protective and ferocious looking guard dog EVER. But the biggest problem he solved? I had a best friend – a huge guardian – until the day he left this earth.

Even though he ran me over in his excitement when I came outside, leaving me flat on my back, I loved him. Despite being at tail-height and him having a wagging tail that felt like a stick whacking me in the face repeatedly as he circled me, I loved him. Know what else? I didn’t have to drag my toys out anymore. Smoke drew the kids in – they always wanted play with this horse-sized dog and I was the only kid around that had one. Best of all? No more comments on my shoes. I was now greeted with “I like your big dog….does he bite?” I guess I don’t need to tell you that for some kids the answer to that last question was “sometimes he does” (but he never did, I was just being a little goblin – again).

The real pictures:

This is us on his first night, then 6-8 weeks later. You can see in the latter picture that I’m a much happier girl – even though I’m still wearing “baby shoes”. And my buddy? He never noticed those shoes. If you look close at right, he has his big foot on top of mine. There’s no such thing as “personal space” with your best friend.  LIFE. WAS. SO. GOOD.


7 Comments on “Dogs Make (almost) Everything Better”

  1. Pingback: As Long As The Wind Blows – Proscenium

  2. Oh, so much dog! When I tell the story of Smokey Joe laying his head on the roof of my Pinto to greet me when I pulled up in your driveway, everyone assumes I’m exaggerating. Big Dog! Big Love!


    • Lol! A Pinto wasn’t a stretch for him. Tell them he could look into the windows of 70’s style trucks too! Nobody knew he was a gentle giant, which made for the best dog. He looked FIERCE but was as gentle as a kitten (without claws). ❤️


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