A Dog’s Life

IMG_1219One way or another, I spend a big chunk of my life these days in the company of dogs.  To begin with, I share my home with Lucy, a fourteen-year old dog who has always operated with a total disregard for household rules.  And while old age means she can no longer move as quickly or hear as well as she used to, I still walked into our dining room shortly after we had finished this year’s Easter brunch to find her standing calmly on our dining room table, polishing off the rest of the dessert tray.  Just for the record, she seemed to favor the little egg-shaped cakes over the lemon squares, although it was obvious that she had sampled both.  She may be old, but she still knows an opportunity when she sees it.

IMG_1060Besides living with Lucy, I often help take care of my children’s dogs, which I’m more than happy to do.  My daughter and her husband have Harley, a chihuahua mix who adores her immediate circle of friends and family and has absolutely no use for anyone else. In her own home, she’s happy to simply ignore people she doesn’t like, but walking her is a challenge.  She may love her walks, but she also loves barking at anyone and anything she sees, and flies into an absolute rage when she spots an approaching car.  It doesn’t seem to occur to her that five pounds of furious dog is no match for a thousand pounds of moving steel, and I’m not about to let her learn that lesson the hard way.

IMG_0210My son and his fiancé have Frank, a pug mix, and Roxy, an English Bulldog.  I know Frank well since he lived with us for a while right after my son graduated from college, and have come to love Roxy, too.  Roxy and Frank have become good friends in the past couple of years, although there have been a few necessary adjustments.  Unlike most dogs, Frank loves to wear sweaters (probably because he doesn’t tolerate the cold very well), but Roxy has a problem with that.  One cold December morning, my son sent the dogs outside with Frank proudly sporting a brand-new Christmas sweater.  Ten minutes later, the dogs came back in.  Frank was wearing only his fur, while Roxy had Frank’s Christmas sweater dangling from her teeth.  Clearly, Roxy is a dog who knows how to take matters into her own paws, and Frank has learned to live without sweaters.

IMG_4353My mother has Penny, a sweet and elderly chihuahua who was rescued from a hoarding situation about nine years ago, which means that altogether, my immediate family has five dogs.  I spend time with all of them, trimming nails and filling in as needed for potty breaks, walks and meals.  For the past fourteen years, I have also been volunteering regularly at the Humane Society where I have logged in hundreds of miles walking shelter dogs.  I’ve spent hours patiently coaxing a shy dog out of its run, or working to teach a rowdy dog basic manners, or trying to calm a dog who is clearly stressed out.

Although I’ve always loved dogs, I honestly don’t think I ever planned to have quite so much of my life revolve around them.  There was a time when I toyed with the idea of being a  veterinarian or a vet tech, but my habit of fainting at the sight of blood sort of ruled that out.  Still, I can’t say I’m unhappy with the way things have turned out.  It’s true that in some ways, my life has certainly “gone to the dogs,” but as far as I’m concerned, they’re worth it.

33 thoughts on “A Dog’s Life

    • Thanks for sharing that link! It was a beautiful post, and I believe Molson and Fozzie are very lucky dogs. I think rescued dogs know they are lucky when they finally land in a good home, and that makes living with them even more rewarding.

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  1. No one greets you like a dog when you walk into the house. They’re honest and loyal and affectionate and see only what’s in front of them. One can do much worse than having their life “go to the dogs”…:)
    But I’ve never understood why the smallest dogs bark the loudest and are the most agressive..:)

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    • Thanks, George! That’s what I think too. Time spent with dogs is time well spent!
      As for why the little dogs are always the sassiest, I’m not really sure. We call it the “napoleon complex,” but it might have to do with the fact that they do know how small they are, and want to let everyone know that they are quite “tough” so that no one messes with them. But I do know that small dogs get away with behavior that big dogs don’t! If Harley weighed 80 pounds, I don’t think I’d walk her at all!

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  2. I’ve always felt that pets are part of the family. I’ve had dogs in the past and right now we have cats. I love all animals and believe they all deserve a loving home. Kudos to you, Ann, for all you do for them!

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  3. Your work at the Humane Society is so important. All the dogs are you pictured are adorable, but Harley really stood out to me! What a cutie pie. We had a golden retriever, Bailey, for 16 years before he passed about three years ago. My husband and boys have been begging for another dog but I’m wary of taking on any more responsibility at this point in time.

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    • Sixteen years is a long age for a golden retriever! You must have taken great care of Bailey. Personally, I think you’re wise to wait until you are completely ready before getting another dog. And you’re right, Harley is cute….she rocks that winter jacket!

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  4. I’m sure hundreds of people can relate to your story. I love dogs and wish we could have some here, but we are currently renting a place with a “no animals allowed” policy. And as to number of dogs, a long time ago I had a boyfriend who had 2 dogs, I had 2 dogs, and then we were asked to dog-sit while friends went away for a week. We didn’t realize how bizarre and difficult this dog was going to be. When the friends returned from their vacation, they refused to take the dog back. 5 full-time dogs was over the top. People were starting to look at us as if we were mad when we would walk them.

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  5. How wonderful to be surrounded by so much doggy love. I grew up with cats and only got a dog after I got married but for the past 23 years we haven’t been without one. From a Blue Heeler that went everywhere with us to a smooch called Harry they just bring so much joy to our lives. Over Easter we looked after an Australian Shepherd and having two dogs run around the house had us laughing the whole time. So special. A great post Ann.

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