Anyone who follows me on social media knows that I am a dog person. Always have been, always will be.
During my childhood in Jamaica, my family raised bull mastiffs. When we left Jamaica when I was eleven, our bull mastiff, Laura, stayed behind to live with my uncle. She was old and blind in one eye. We did not think she would survive the trip to America. I cried so much when we left her. I will never forget her.
When my family moved to Key West, my father bought two stores. One was a Hallmark Gold Crown store in uptown called Conn’s Cameras and Cards, and my dad managed the other store, Photo Sonics, on Duval Street. My dad went all the way to Georgia to buy another bull mastiff—a beautiful, fawn-colored puppy. We named her Konica because both of my dad’s stores sold that brand of camera. Konica lived to be about twelve. She brought us so much joy and many great memories.
I went without a dog from my university days until I married my first husband. I guess when you are just starting out in your professional life, you concentrate on other things—like whether you can pay the rent this month and how long it will take to pay off your student loans.
All that changed after John and I got married. When we visited my Uncle Robbie and Auntie Judy in Jamaica, we fell in love with one of their chocolate Labradors. I believe the Clintons also had a chocolate Lab at the time. So, for our wedding anniversary one year, John took me to a home in San Juan Capistrano, California, where I was introduced to Snickers, a very pregnant female chocolate Lab with American Kennel Club papers. About two months later, we went back and chose a pup from her small litter. We called him Max, but his proper name was Maxwell Augustus of Kodiak, according to his papers. He instantly became our baby. We had a large backyard we loved to play fetch in. Or we would take Max to Trabuco Creek, and he would jump in the ice-cold mountain waters. He lived to be fifteen years old. I loved that dog so much. His companionship kept me alive after John died suddenly.
For a few months after Max passed, I did not have a dog. My house felt empty and lonely without a dog, so I contacted a Lab rescue in Southern California. After I filled out the adoption forms, the rescue agency inspected my house. After they were satisfied that all was in order, I travelled north to Ventura to meet a rescued Lab.
According to the little documentation he had, his name was once Pablo but had since been changed to Carver. I could tell this sweet dog had been abused because he was skittish and afraid of the dark. I took him home with me that day. We instantly bonded. He was always close to me, even when I went to the bathroom!
He was the only dog I ever knew who purred when you rubbed his chest. He was great with my ex’s kids and grandkids. He gave me so much love. He lived to be almost sixteen. The day I put him down was one of the toughest days of my life. Both he and Maxwell are cremated, and I have their ashes here at my southern Florida home. I kiss the boxes that hold their ashes often.
I also had standard black poodles at one point, but that is a story for another day.
Until next time.