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It’s a Dog’s Life


I guess it’s safe to say that I’m a dog person. Da Queen sometimes gets driven to distraction by my chattering about the dogs whenever we are away from them. I’m sure from time to time that my obsession with my pets can be so intense that she may wonder where she fits on the food chain of my heart.

Not that she has anything to worry about, mind you – while sometimes it may seem that I love my dogs more than anything, I’m not quite that obsessive about it. However, I will admit that from time to time I find myself going a bit over the top when it comes to my affection for our four dogs.

That’s right; we have four of them – three of which are ours, the fourth inherited from my in-laws after their illnesses forced them into a nursing facility. Shiner is the eldest of our three. We got him a few months after we moved into our present home. He is a big mutt with elements of Boxer and Boston terrier in his bloodline as far as we can tell. He is absolutely sweet-natured and while he can be a bit clumsy from time to time, he has mellowed out considerably over the years. Peanut is our corgi/dachshund mix. He can be foul-tempered and stubborn, but he is also loving and inquisitive. He loves to swim – one of his favorite tricks is to swim circles around me when I’m doing laps in the pool just to demonstrate how superior he is in the water. He’s a rescue dog and we suspect he was abused before we got him.

Our puppy is Penelope, a purebred Shih Tzu that we got from a friend. Penelope is the apple of my eye, a completely adorable charmer who just loves people. She’s tiny but feisty and she always seems to be smiling. Our most recent addition is Angel, a miniature Jack Russell who previously belonged to my in-laws. Angel reminds me of Annie, our beagle mix who passed away a few years ago. She loves to bark (particularly at Peanut) but once you get that out of her system, she’s playful and loving and loves to snuggle. In fact, as I write this, Angel is snuggled at my side and Penelope is lying on my leg.

Wrangling them takes a lot of my time, making sure they are fed, watered and let out to do their business. They have minds of their own and they don’t always listen. It can get frustrating, particularly at six in the morning when Peanut is whining to go out and then rewards my getting up and letting him out by refusing to go back into his enclosure despite the presence of fresh water and food. I’m not in the mood to argue with a dog when I first get up, so I generally resort to bribery.

Why I love dogs so much I couldn’t really tell you for sure. I admire their ability to love unconditionally, and I treasure the excitement they feel whenever we return home from going out somewhere. It’s nice to know there’s always someone glad to see you. What I can say is that dogs generally bring out the best in me. I will cop to the complaint that I occasionally treat my dogs better than I treat people. I play with them, tell them that I love them whenever I can and make sure their needs are seen to. In return, they give me their love without a second thought.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s the secret to human interaction. Tell someone you love them whenever you can and make sure their needs are seen to. Chances are, you won’t get the unconditional love a dog gives you. Humans are far more complicated creatures than dogs. However, the more love you give to others, the more you receive in return. In that sense, Paul McCartney had the right of it.

 Loving dogs in that sense is far easier than loving people. Dogs are simple and direct, whereas people are not. Dogs are far more eager to please than humans are. Loving people requires much more work than loving dogs. Still, we can all learn a great deal about love by observing our dogs – and yes, our cats as well. As with small children, love is given without expectation or demand. It is there regardless. It is the purest form of love that humans ever experience. It is something I aspire to. After all, if we all loved as readily, as willingly and as completely as our dogs do, the world would be a much nicer place, don’t you think?

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