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I recall the only dog I felt affection for as a child was a stray black lab we brought home. I remember petting it and crying when told it had distemper and we could not keep it. At some point, there was a dog from the pound in our home, a black and white medium size dog. I have no memory of wanting a dog, choosing a dog, petting the dog or giving the dog any attention. It's as if she did not exist. I do not recall seeing her eat, drink, play, or sleep. My only memories are of my father kicking the dog and yelling at her. The most vivid memory is of him kicking her into the basement, down 12-15 stair steps. Neither I nor my 2 siblings ever rushed to her defense; instead, we scattered like cockroaches to our rooms and closed the doors. My older brother and I were turned on whenever we tried to protect each other, so we had that experience, but I do not recall even thinking that we should try to protect the dog. What does that say about us? How could we not instinctively rush to the dog? I never wanted a dog and when people later asked if I had dogs growing up, my answer was always no, because in my mind that's how it felt. When a dear friend died, another friend said I needed a dog to heal. That was my first dog and there have been 5 more. When I compare how I treat them to the complete lack of empathy and protection for my childhood dog, it's incomprehensible. My dogs come first, and it's not an exaggeration to say I would risk my life to save them. At age 37, I was with my mother when my father died. I felt relief and one of my first thoughts was "now it's safe to have children."
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