Dogs are such amazing animals. They sense things that we don’t. As a kid, I read a book called, “Follow My Leader” in which a boy, blinded by a firecracker finds a way to achieve independence with the help of a guide dog. I read that book as a child, but it has stayed with me throughout the years. In all reality, I am more of a cat person, and I know what all my dog loving friends would say to that, but that is the way I am. I had a dog as a child, and I can tell you that King was the best dog that ever lived, and I loved him very much. I just can’t say that I, personally, have ever seen a dog that I could feel that way about since. Neverthess, I have seen dogs that were truly amazing, and those would be the working dogs.
In the book I mentioned, a boy blinded by a firecracker, who thought his life was over, finds a true friend to be his eyes…and finds his way back to a full life again. Seeing-eye dogs are so amazing, and to me they are inspiring. Maybe it was the book I read, or maybe I could just envision how lives could be greatly improved by seeing-eye and other working dogs.
We have had two working dogs in our family. My husband Bob’s cousin, Sandy Kountz had a dog that was able to detect seizures before they occurred. That is one of the latest uses of working dogs, and one that in my opinion has been a huge help to a lot of people. Having been around seizures several times in my lifetime, I can tell you that if there is a way to stop them before they happen, that is by far the best plan. These dogs can bring peace of mind for people struggling with uncontrolled seizures.
All these dogs were amazing at what they were trained to do, and I don’t mean to discount any of them, but I know of another amazing dog, who had no training at all. This dog’s name was Brownie, and I don’t know if it was a male or female, because I never knew this dog. I only knew of Brownie. Brownie was a dog that belonged to my in-laws. They had Brownie when their oldest three children were little. My sister-in-law, Marlyce Schulenberg was developmentally disabled, and she was the oldest child, so she didn’t have older siblings to watch over her when she was outside playing. That’s where Brownie came in. Nobody ever had to tell Brownie to keep an eye on Marlyce. Brownie instinctively knew that Marlyce needed someone to watch out for her, and Brownie decided to be that guardian.
The instant Marlyce was headed to the door to go outside, Brownie was right there, and that dog kept her out of more than one scrape according to my father-in-law. Brownie was her guardian angel. Marlyce was a little girl who wanted to be independent, just like her younger sister, Debbie and younger brother, Bob, but she was different than they were, and without Brownie, she would have felt that difference very much. I am so thankful to Brownie, who was instinctively the self appointed guardian for my sister-in-law, so her life could be as full of fun as her siblings’ lives.
Kids have a tendency to pick on the child who is most bothered by it…especially siblings. In Bob’s family, the child most bothered by it was, none other than Marlyce. She was the oldest child, but with her developmental disabilities, she would never really be the oldest child mentally. Nevertheless, she was able to do most things for herself, and she excelled at knitting and cookie baking. While Marlyce was great at these things, she did not respond well to the normal teasing that kids do with their siblings. That didn’t stop her three sisters and two brothers from teasing her anyway. In fact, for as long as I knew Marlyce, they picked on her rather unmercifully. They weren’t mean about it, but she was sensitive, so she took it wrong. In reality, much of the teasing was funny, and I think especially for the younger siblings, it was all done in pure fun.
When she wasn’t being teased, Marlyce was very loving to her siblings, and if someone else was picking on them… look out, because Marlyce was their biggest protector. In reality, Marlyce had a very soft heart. Not only did she not like to be teased, but in her opinion, it was simply not right to pick on her siblings either. She might get really mad at them, but she loved each of them dearly.
Another part of Marlyce’s life that held high importance to her was her nieces and nephews. In her opinion they could do almost no wrong…except for that pesky teasing that they embarked on every now and then too. Funny thing though, the nieces and nephews got away with a little bit more when it came to teasing than the rest of the siblings.
As for me, well normally, I am really into teasing too, but somehow, with Marlyce, I didn’t have the heart for it much. Don’t get me wrong, I could see the humor in the teasing that was done, but I somehow ended up being her protector, I guess. Marlyce was one of the most special people in my life, and I loved her very much. There never was a kinder, sweeter, more loving person on earth. She has been gone from us now for almost 25 years, but in my memory files, I can picture her so vividly telling me that she made her wonderful chocolate chip cookies. I miss her very much, and I look forward to seeing her again. Today would have been Marlyce’s 64th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Marlyce. We love you.