Archived Story

Bringing home man’s best friend

Published 11:58am Monday, August 6, 2012

Although cat people can’t possibly understand this, the addition of a new dog to a family is a monumental decision.

In many ways, adding a dog to the family is like adding a child:

- It’s another mouth to feed. Every day.

- It involves hours and hours of potty training.

- The initial investment is a miniscule fraction of the overall cost.

- Personal possessions at floor level will sustain substantial damage.

- It’s a major added expense on any out-of-town vacation.

- It will keep you young.

In many other ways, adding a dog is not like adding a child to the family:

- Diapers are not an option.

- The built-in mother-child forgiveness that overcomes most stressful situations isn’t really built in to dog ownership. It may come, it may not.

- Children rarely jump onto your chest at dawn and bark in your face to announce its time for breakfast.

- Children don’t usually require restraints made of nylon webbing.

- Most of the time, children understand that you have to go to work and don’t make that my-best-friend-is-leaving-forever face every morning as you back out of the driveway.

- Children don’t have dog breath unless they get into the Kibbles and Bits when you’re not looking.

- Although children are often happy to see you when you come home, they rarely show it by peeing on the floor or shaking the entire back half of their bodies or dancing in tight circles barking so loudly it hurts.

Cats, on the other hand, just hang out with you as long as you feed them. If you don’t feed them, they look out for themselves and may or may not care much about you or the home you made for them. Actually, I don’t know that for a fact since I’ve never had a cat. The other points I know by heart.

I’m a dog person through and through.

We’re now in that one-minute-I-do and one-minute-I-don’t phase of deciding whether we need a new dog. Mary Lyman’s favorite pup, Jenny, a beautiful white lab-golden retriever mix that wore jet black eye liner and spent hours with her sharing a porch swing, died earlier this year.

My Brittany, Snoopy, is now home alone.

He’s getting neurotic.

Scratch that.

He’s getting more neurotic.

And it’s obvious he needs a companion.

At mid-life, he’s at that age when a pup in the house would be both a delight and a burden for him, which is exactly what he needs.

My good friend Nancy Granger called today to say her current litter of pups is ready to go. I understand she said it with a touch of urgency in her voice.

And we probably need another dog.

What we don’t need is chewed shoes, chewed rugs, chewed antique furniture legs and chewed downspouts (Yes, Jenny actually ate one of the downspouts on the corner of our house. I think there was a chipmunk inside at the time but it could have just looked tasty –  I’m not sure.)

Jenny was an Olympic chewer when she was young. Once we boarded her in the same pen with my former bird dog Luke. When we came back from an out-of-town visit and went to the vet to pick the dogs up, a lady in a lab coat came out to speak to us. She was holding a big brown envelope. She said she was sorry as she pulled an x-ray out and showed us how Jenny had actually eaten the collar off of Luke’s neck and swallowed it. The x-ray told the story plain as day: a see-through dog body surrounding a long white collar, buckle and shamrock-shaped rabies tag. I asked the obvious question and learned that the situation had passed. Both dogs survived with no physical problems, though I’m sure they both sustained mental scars. My job was to marvel and buy a new collar.

Tomorrow we’ll go take a look at Nancy’s pup. Cat people couldn’t possibly understand.

Boone is publisher of The Outlook.

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