A Letter to My Dog

Dear Shiva,

I’ve never written to you before. Probably because you can’t read. But as you lay snoring beside me, I know you can sense the meaning behind my words.

It’s been a wild couple of years, hasn’t it? This morning, when we were both struggling to get through the thick, knee-high snow drifts, and I eventually just dropped your leash to make it easier for both of us, it really hit me how far we both have come. Not only did I trust you to stay with me but I actually enjoyed myself. It’s been a long time since I considered walking you a giant chore. I will admit I used to. Living with you is work. You have to know that. You are not always a joy. Sometimes I think you delight in being contrary. Perhaps The Cat has taught you a few things about how to drive me the most insane. Nevertheless, there have always been moments of light. Like right now, for instance. Since you are sleeping, and all. I think I like you best when you are asleep.

I’m joking. Mostly.

In so many ways we are not a good fit for each other. You are the ultimate jock dog. Just look at your muscles! I am the ultimate bookworm. The two don’t go together well. The only sport I excel at completely terrifies you. It doesn’t seem right to have all this water in our backyard and a dog who hates to swim. What’s up with that? Do you not see how lucky you are? If you’d just get over this tiny fear, you could be a dock dog champion! Think of the ribbons! Think of the glory!

I know. It’s not about the ribbons or the glory. If I ever get a big head I know you will be around to knock it back down. You are nothing if not humbling. Just when I am starting to feel confident about my training abilities, you will do something so bizarre, like act as if you’ve never seen a jump before, that will prove I still have a long way to go. You are nothing if not surprising. Life with you is never boring.

I guess that’s a good thing.

And you do have some good points. I don’t go a day without laughing at something you’ve done. In fact, I rarely make it to seven in the morning without emitting a giggle or two. You’ve given me something to focus on, something of which I can be proud. Truly, you are what gets me out of bed every morning at five-thirty. A time that did not exist in my world before. Because of you I have seen more sunrises and sunsets in the last two years than I have in my entire life.  There is also the matter of your drive. You never hesitate to try something new. No matter what the activity you are on board one hundred percent. I realise how special that is and I don’t take it for granted. You take on everything with so much courage and verve. It’s amazing to watch. Yes, you are insane. But I kind of am too. The title of this blog fits for so many reasons. I rescued a wacky mutt and a wacky mutt rescued me in return. We put up with each other’s quirks. Though you are probably a lot more patient than I am. I owe you one.

How about this? I promise to have a looser hand with the cookies and to gripe less about your failings if you promise to cut us some slack. When the inevitable question arises, to bark or not to bark, can you do me a favour and choose not to bark? At least choose it more often? That would be great. Our neighbours are only so understanding. Getting evicted isn’t really part of my five-year-plan.

Speaking of five-year-plans… Do you see those weave poles on the other side of the room? It would be just stellar if…

Okay, okay, okay, I won’t be greedy. It’s my job to work on that with you. I get it. You really take this keeping me humble thing seriously, don’t you?

So I think we have a deal. I will give you more stinky treats, more belly rubs, and more attention, and you will try to focus a bit more. It would also be great if you would be a little more understanding. If not with me than with the PH. He doesn’t always remember all the rules. Sometimes he forgets to pay attention to strangers and doesn’t see that evil person walking by our house. Maybe you could remind him in a gentler way so he wouldn’t feel so bad? I would appreciate it and I know he would too. We’re both just silly humans, after all. You can’t expect us to be perfect all the time.

One last thing. I want to say thanks. I know I am not your ideal owner. I’m new at this. I screw up a lot. Sometimes I worry I am not good enough for a dog like you. Everyone says how awesome you are, how talented, how you could go all the way to the top. I am not so sure I am the person to take you there. But you don’t seem to care. Regardless of what mistakes I make, you seem to find a way to have fun. And you always come back.

Thanks for the life lessons, Sheevs. Our future dogs thank you as well. We may not be perfectly matched, but I think we’re going to be all right.

Lots of love,

The Woman With the Food in Her Pocket

47 thoughts on “A Letter to My Dog

  1. 🙂 What a nice post. Your photos are beautiful too. I think most dog owners feel the same way. Shiva’s a lucky girl to have you (even if you aren’t liberal with the treats all the time).


    • I’m pretty liberal with the treats. Shiva just doesn’t think so unless I am basically acting like a giant food dispenser. 😛


  2. I think you are an amazing owner and I’m sure Shiva would agree. Any dog would be lucky to have a home with you and PH. Cat, too, but I don’t think the Kitty Meister will ever admit it.


  3. I loved this. The humor and the honesty were so touching. Such a well written stroke from the heart from you to Shiva. On the picture side of things, Shiva does the same thing mine do when I’m trying to get a picture with them. “I’m not gonna look and you can’t make me.” 🙂 Darling! All the pictures were a nice addition to the post.


  4. Such a great post… Shiva would be so proud, if she could read all the great things you have to say about her. What I absolutely love and respect about you and Shiva is that while you are not the perfect match… you have adapted to make her world AWESOME… even if that means you being a little bit of a jock yourself 🙂 ❤ this!


  5. Oh, Kristine, completely from the heart which, it seems to me not knowing you personally, is the means by which you operate daily. You have made this wonderful commitment to Shiva. You are right – she knows her rescuer and yes, they do rescue us back. I am so pleased YOU see the progress you and Shiva have made (and the PH) as well as the humbleness with which you train and learn; would we all be daily so ready to learn and listen.
    About those weave poles – I don’t do agility but a friend does. She says she learned this past summer to start only with two – let her dogs (Pit Bulls, one of whom is nicknamed “Sea Cow” for her sloth and girth – HA) learn to go in and out just those two, then add others slowly till you have a weaver. Of course, I have not done this. Just passing it along.


    • Thanks for the advice! That is actually the exact method we are using to teach the weave poles. It is the best by far so your friend obviously knows what she is doing. Shiva is getting better but she has almost too much drive so she often misses her entries. She tends to just rush ahead at top speed without thinking. I’m trying to teach her to be more mindful but it’s not easy.

      Anyway, thanks for your comments! Sometimes all we can do is be patient.


  6. Aww that is so nice!

    There is a certain trainer out there (who shall remain nameless lest I get pounced on :)) who says you don’t get the dog you want, you get the dog you need.

    I think that is so true! Shiva got the partner she needed too 🙂


  7. I feel the same way sometimes about Oly. Shocked and amazed at how we came together, and at times feel like I wasn’t her total right human. BUT, when I see her now, 2 years old, a million times better than the puppy we brought home it’s amazing to see how we’ve both changed.

    Dogs are these wild creatures that completely and totally change us. For the better.


  8. Great post! None of us are perfect owners, though, so we all have to muddle through and do our best. Part of the perfect design of dog is that they are so forgiving and adaptable! They’re what makes us alright in the end! 🙂


  9. What a lovely, heartfelt post. That last little bit definitely brought tears to my eyes! It sounds like you two are actually a perfect pair… Sometimes it takes opposites to help each other grow. I’m sure Shiva appreciates everything you wrote, too. She may not be able to read, but she knows.


  10. Ah, you mad me tear up a bit. You are so wonderful and your relationship with Shiva is so amazing. You teach us all a lot and I love following your adventures. Very nice post!


  11. Nice post – and when you start to feel that you are not good enough for Shiva – remember that without you and the PH – there wouldn’t be a Shiva – there would just be a terrified little dog longing for a home and some people that would be just hers. Don’t sell yourself short


    • Heh. There was another couple who wanted to adopt her at the same time, but we had first dibs. The man was very loud, yelled instead of speaking. “ONLY A YEAR OLD?? HOUSE-TRAINED?? AS BIG AS SHE’S GOING TO GET??” So we often joke we saved her from growing deaf before she turned two.


  12. Thank you for putting into words what a lot of feel about our dogs. It is a genuinely mutual rescuing that goes on – things are never the same again, I think, in the best way.


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  14. dear shiva,

    i know it may be quite unusual to get TWO letters in a day after a lifetime of not getting any, but here’s another one anyway.

    you’re A Very Lucky Dog. yes, i should have thought of telling you something you don’t already know, but just to be sure… you’re A Very Lucky Dog.

    The Woman With The Food In Her Pocket is an incredible carer. I don’t think you could have done much better, Sheevs. okay, so maybe she could be carrying lamb chops in her pocket instead of some smelly treats, but apart from that, you really can’t complain.

    look at your toys! look at your lovely house that you mess up and no one minds! look at how well you can skate! so who cares that you can’t swim [yet], the lake is frozen half the year there, isn’t it? you even have a home-friend, The Cat. [okay, maybe not that one.]

    anyway, that’s it. i hope you can read by now because that’s a trick every dog should know, even before swimming.

    have a lovely weekend and don’t get caught in a blizzard. HUG xox


  15. Another wonderful post and photos. Shiva and Frankie have a lot in common, although as he approaches his (guessed at birthday – Valentines Day!) 3rd birthday and a bit over 2 years with me he is mellowing, chilling out and becoming more sensible and obedient, yay!! We’re just going for a walk at the park where he’ll probably make me eat my words, lol!!


    • LOL. Everytime I say something about Shiva seeming a lot calmer, she will do exactly that! They certainly keep us guessing. But I hope for your sake Frankie has chilled out a little. Shiva will turn, we guess, three in April and I’d love it if that is the magic number!


  16. Awww, I luved this letter to Shiva. I bet she luved it, too.

    You know, I don’t know why you think you’re not Shiva’s perfect owner. Of course, you are! Just imagine how many peoples mighta given up on her cuz of her energies and smarticles. Some other peoples mighta gotten real mad about all her…ahem…issues and taken it out on her. And I’m pretty sure most other peoples wouldn’t have started a whole BLOG about her. Gosh, think of all the Most Amazing things you’ve helped her do and overcome. I’m pretty sure that Shiva thinks you’re her pawfect human just for those reasons alone. And the stinky treats – well, that’s just the stinky treat icing on the cake!

    My mom worries all the time that maybe if I had gotten adopted by somebuddy else, I woulda come along faster or be like a therapy dog or something right now. But that’s why she’s the pawfect mom for me. Cuz she DOES worry abouts stuff like that. Just like you worry about stuff like that for Shiva. Even though it doesn’t matter one tiny little bit to either me OR her!

    Wiggles & Wags,


  17. You made my Mom leak reading your beautiful letter. Regardless of your (inagined) shortcomings, Shiva is a lucky girl. Mom often wonders how I would have turned out if she had known what she was doing when I was a puppy. I say our relationship is all the more special, because we learned together. And we keep learning together, just like you and Shiva. LOL, and I love your name, Woman With Food In Her Pocket.


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