Lives Well Loved


One of the best parts of writing my column is hearing from readers about their relationships with their pet companions. In my last column, I promised that I would give you Olivers story and so I shall.

Olivers story began in 1993 with a bad owner, being tied in the back yard with a rope and an escape. I got loose and before I knew it I was running in the street, which I had never done before, said Oliver in a 1995 interview. Suddenly something huge hit me and I went flying up in the air. I dont remember what happened after that.

Oliver was found injured on the side of the road, was taken for medical treatment, and then taken to the Alexandria Shelter. Shortly thereafter, a family came to the shelter looking for a companion. The daughter, Alissa, chose Oliver. She found him in the back in the quarantine area because he was still being treated for his injuries. She thought he was beautiful. On July 23, 1993, Alissas mother, Joelle Fishkin, wrote in her journal: Oliver, a mixed breed dachshund-staffordshire terrier, is adopted from the Alexandria Animal Shelter. Her entry five weeks later was: Alissa begins first grade at Kings Park Elementary School.

According to Fishkin, Oliver had a great life. He traveled to Quebec in the car on a family vacation, logging more than 2,200 miles sitting in an elevated cardboard box outfitted with a pillow so he could see all the sights along the way. While in Canada, he kept the ground hogs and deer in line and made friends with local dogs. When not gadding about out of state, Oliver loved to be at his home dog parks where he kept the big dogs in line with his outsized bravado and 25 pounds of determination.
Around 1996, another shelter dog, Molly, joined the family and a doggy door was installed for access to the backyard. They had a great time chasing each other in and out. Like most dogs, Oliver and Molly were happy just being loved and cared for. Continuing the family travels, Molly and Oliver spent time at the North Carolina beaches and once a month for 10 years, they took turns going to the familys mountain home in Front Royal where they could run loose and chase squirrels and rabbits.

So here was Oliver, a dog who had started life in not so good circumstances, living the good life because of the kindness of strangers and the love of a little girl. To get a second chance and to be loved and love in return is the heart of this story.

Oliver and Alissa shared many confidences and had a gazillion hugs and kisses to share for 16 years. Alissas canine companion saw her through to the final semester of her senior year in college; but a few weeks ago, his job done, Oliver left to go and chase ground hogs and deer and squirrels in a place where his little body is no longer in any pain.

Good job Oliver. Your constant companionship is more proof that love is what makes the world go round.

Please think about a shelter dog when you are looking for a pet companion. I thank Joelle Fishkin and her daughter Alissa for sharing Olivers story.

Former First Cat Dies

Socks, former First cat during the Clinton administration, died on Friday, February 20, 2009 of complications from throat cancer. He was 20.

Socks, a tuxedo domestic shorthair of undetermined parentage, was adopted from a shelter by then Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton and his family. He moved with the family to the White House when Clinton was elected president of the United States. Socks became an author of international renown with his book Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids Letters to First Pets. When the Clintons left the White House in 2001, Socks retired to Maryland to live with the former Presidents secretary Betty Currie.