Growing up I spent my summers living with my aunt and uncle so I could work on a farm outside Eugene, Oregon. They always had one or two dogs, sweet souls with questionable breeding, usually obtained from a little girl sitting in front of a Payless Drug Store with a cardboard box that said, “FREE PUPPIES”. Despite their checkered pedigrees, these dogs were usually some mixture of retrievers and hounds and consequently were good hunting dogs for a young boy who spent all available time in the woods.
As fate would have it, I fell in love and married a woman who is deathly allergic to animals. Deathly allergic means multiple trips to the Emergency Room for adrenaline so she could breathe after exposure to animal dander. Needless to say, I realized my dog days were over.
However, to her everlasting credit my wife one day said the kids needed to learn to live with a dog, and she suggested we get a…Standard Poodle.
A poodle, huh…? I was initially skeptical but she persisted, pointing out that they were actually bred in Germany as hunting dogs called pudels.
I waivered. Maybe it would be ok. And since they have hair instead of fur and don’t shed, there would be no fur or dander throughout the house to trigger an allergic reaction.
The big, black female turned out to be the best dog I’d ever had. For thirteen years she was my close, intelligent companion, at home and on mountain trails. She proved herself to be a fearless and intuitive protector of the family one day when our daughter was home alone and terrible danger threatened. The day I held her for the last time was one of the saddest day of my life.
Today, two Standards and a Miniature maintain their pack in our home and share my desire to explore the wilderness. So yes, poodles. I love most dogs, but poodles have a special place in our family.