I have had three dogs in my life: Skipper, Chalo, and Ripley. Each was unique in their own way and each played an important role in my early, formative years.
Skipper was a beagle that inhabited my family's home long before I was born. He was the one pictured next to me while I was in diapers and the one who fell asleep next to me in front of the fire on Christmas Eve. I took Skipper to a local dog show and won first prize in the category of "Most Likeable Dog." He was a true best friend so when he died of old age just after my seventh birthday, I was understandably devastated.
My parents firmly believed that every boy needs a dog so they went out and bought me a replacement beagle. This puppy was called Chalo, and although I was not big on the name, I was ecstatic with the dog. Chalo, being young and vibrant, was a grand contrast to Skipper who was already well into old age when I came along. Chalo and I raced through the fields in the summer sun and whipped down the snow-covered hills during the winter.
I only had Chalo a couple of years before a miserable neighbor poisoned her. Several area pets went sick over the course of one week and while we could never prove who it was, everyone in the neighborhood knew the culprit. I was completely crushed by the loss and angry and confused over why someone would want to hurt a helpless dog.
After Chalo died I told my parents I didn't want another dog. Anything other than Chalo would have been a step down in my mind. They conceded for a while and then one day my father showed up with Ripley, a small Terrier who was as smart as she was adorable.