Magical bond: dogs and their grandparents

As a kid, I loved my grandparents. They were unique and, some might say, a little quirky.

For instance, Grandma Barker always had boxes of gum and Tic Tacs in her kitchen cupboards. My sister, Beth, and I got the gum and Maxi, our Miniature Schnauzer, got the Tic Tacs. Maxi had the freshest breath and Beth and I got cavities.

I’m reminded of this because the first Sunday after Labor Day, as designated by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, is National Grandparents Day.

Carter said he wished we would learn from “grandparents whose values transcend passing fads and pressures, and who possess the wisdom of distilled pain and joy.” Our senior generation, he said, “provides our society a link to our national heritage and traditions.”

The president didn’t mention dogs back then, but I will now, because Teddy, my family’s 9-year-old black Lab, had such a loving relationship with my mom, Jeannette, and my husband Ed’s mom, Marilyn.

My dad, Richard, died from Alzheimer’s disease years before Teddy was born, but the pooch was named, in part, after my dad’s favorite childhood dog. My dad always told me how his Teddy, a mixed breed, was smart, playful and loyal, always ready for a walk after school.

As I think about all the time Beth and I spent with our grandparents, I think about Teddy and the time he’s spent with his grandparents and the activities they have enjoyed.

Teddy spent the most time with my mom. She was just closer, living in Wadsworth, Ohio, as opposed to Hilton Head, South Carolina, where Marilyn and her husband, Jim, resided.

Mom and Teddy met a few weeks after we adopted him. I should have known she would spoil him. As Ed and I walked into my mom’s home, Teddy was already sitting on the family room sofa chewing on a new toy with several others nearby.

When I told Mom we didn’t want Teddy sitting on the furniture, she replied, “Oh, he’s fine.” So much for the “no sitting on the furniture” policy.

Teddy’s relationship with my mom revolved around treats, ear scratches, toys, and more treats. She and Teddy talked to each other, mom using her native tongue and Teddy his, which took the form of yaps with a high whine for punctuation.

It was a sight to see and hear. Teddy has never talked to any of us the way he talked to my mom.

And Mom was the only one who would feed Teddy at the dinner table — until Ed’s parents moved to Kettering and Marilyn got into the act.

When my mom passed, Marilyn showered Teddy with affection. Ear scratches. Treats. Toys. The pooch never lacked for grandparent affection.

Then Marilyn died this past spring.

Fortunately, Grandpa Jim, still with us at 96, knew the importance of continuity and how much the dog would miss those treats, ear scratches and toys.

So the tradition continues.

Karin Spicer is a member of The Dog Writers Association of America. She lives in Greene County with her family and two furry pets who inspire her. She can be reached at

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