'When I Die, I Want to Come Back As One of Your Dogs'

On more than one occasion, we have been asked "when I die, can I come back as one of your dogs?" Surely, this conjures up a whole new level of pooch-spoiling in most people's minds and I am never entirely sure the question is meant as a compliment. No matter, I neither deny nor apologize for our commitment to our fur family members. They are here because someone else couldn't meet their obligation to them or worse. Each one of them is adopted.

Our dogs (and any furry friends that they have over) might enjoy "new bandanna day" and once they are in the know, will line up with pride for their new adornment.

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Photo credit: James Ostertag

It is a tradition to share some farm fresh eggs or the last of a yogurt as a healthy snack. There are special places to enjoy the sunshine on your back for a nice nap and a little pool in the summer if you'd like to cool off.

They are quite acquainted with the furniture including our bed and covers; after all, this is their house. On a chilly day, who wouldn't like to be tucked in with a fuzzy blanket, right? Just like it is for us, it's the little things that make them feel special.

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Photo credit: James Ostertag

Instead of focusing on how cushy folks think my pups have it, I should probably let these people know that having the "right stuff" to come back as one of our dogs is not as simple as it looks:

• You are courageous and take that leap of faith that you are now where you belong and that you are safe, no matter what happened to you before.

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Photo credit: James Ostertag

• When we show you fairness and are patient as you learn to trust you grow more and more confident in yourself each day.

• Soon you approach each day with a renewed enthusiasm and wear your joy proudly.

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Photo credit: James Ostertag

• You are eager, always wanting to learn and experience new things, proving that the world never gets old.

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Photo credit: James Ostertag

• You play nice with others, human and canine because you are a good citizen.

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Photo credit: James Ostertag

• You look for the best in us and we happily return the favor.

• You are watchful and alert, letting us know if there is any danger (real or perceived) and either way, we appreciate your efforts.

• You are generous, giving freely of your with wiggles, kisses, snorts and cuddles -- every single day.

• As you grow older, you will trust us to care for you, and we will -- because you are family.

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Photo credit: James Ostertag

I will be ready the next time someone asks us if when they die, they can come back as one of our dogs. I will let them know that they have some pretty big shoes to fill and that I am definitely taking their question as a compliment.