Leading a dog’s life not that ruff ... er, rough

Posted 12/20/18

There’s probably not another human being alive who loves a dog more than I do.Well, at least a good dog.

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Leading a dog’s life not that ruff ... er, rough

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There’s probably not another human being alive who loves a dog more than I do.
Well, at least a good dog.
Dogs and people sometimes have a lot in common. Both can be ornery, cantankerous, annoying or just downright unpleasant.
I remember a dog like that from years ago. A chihuahua, she barked and yipped and yapped at the slightest provocation, one of those whiny obnoxious barks. If you looked at her wrong, she’d go into a frenzy. I think it was probably because she was mad at life, not knowing for sure if she was a dog or a mouse on steroids.
For the most part, however, most dogs are good dogs and have much to offer their masters, although the jury is still out on who is the master in most people-dog relationships. You want to know how important a good dog is to a good life? An old-timer told me long ago a dog is a reflection of God’s love.
“Whadda you mean ‘a reflection,’” I asked.
“Well, just take a look at how it’s spelled,” he said. “’God’ spelled backwards is ‘dog’ and backwards is a reflection. You can pretty much beat a dog – not that you should or should want to – and he’ll still love you. Dogs are faithful; they’ll follow you anywhere. Cats? They’re too persnickety; you have to earn their love and that’s not love.”
Lately I’ve found out that not only do people and dogs have much in common but I’ve also found out a dog can teach an old master new tricks.
Since I was a wee lad, I’ve had my share of dogs. There was Tootsie, who was already in our family when I came to be. She was 16, almost blind and hard of hearing when a driver went out of his way to hit her one Sunday morning as I stood at the edge of the road frantically calling her to come back to the yard. I must confess to you I’ve wished many a time he still has trouble sleeping.
Later on, we got Socks, a tan fellow with four white feet who was supposed to be a small dog, only he never got the message so we gave him to a family who lived way out in the country. Same thing with a pair of pups, black and white who we named Spic and Span. If you remember a washing detergent by that name, you’ve had a few birthdays.
Later, after I’d grown into adulthood, at least in number of years, we had Charlie, the black collie/shepherd mix who loved to kill snakes; Butch, the black German Shepherd who got tangled up on ice and came in second in a confrontation with a heating oil truck; Fred, who didn’t know it was a bad idea to sleep in the road; Sam, the little black Spaniel who loved to chase ashes when I’d set a newspaper on fire on the ground and who just disappeared one day.
We also had Ralph and Russel and Lewis – we started liking people names for our dogs, something our children Spot and Fido didn’t understand – and Savannah, the Golden Retriever we inherited from our niece when she had to move to a “no dogs” apartment; Clara and Ellie and finally Hunley, so named by our first grandchild after the dog on “Curious George.”
All those were great dogs and I feel like I’m leaving some others out; suffice it to say we’ve seldom been without a canine, including the Australian Shepherd/border collie who now lives with Shirley and me. She was supposed to be the property of three of our grandchildren who live next door to replace Hunley, a good dog who went to the rainbow bridge but apparently she didn’t get the memo.
Our daughter says it’s because she recognizes a sucker when she sees one and there’s a good deal of truth in that.
But here’s perhaps the most significant revelation of all for me: she’s taught me something, namely that if given the chance a dog will prefer to sleep inside the house.
See, up to now, every one of those other dogs lived outside where they had full roam of the yard and pastures. They had plenty of water, either in their dishes or the ponds. We fed them well and often. They did not have to ask for permission to be excused; rather, they just found a convenient spot and made themselves right at home. They had sleeping quarters full of hay and cedar shavings sheltered from the elements. I could have slept in them and stayed warm.
But a couple of weeks ago, present pooch showed up on our front porch one Sunday afternoon with a significant flesh wound on her abdomen. Nothing was broken so we don’t know if she was hit or attacked by coyotes or a bigger stray dog. But bottom line was she needed to visit her local vet.
Which she did. Stayed for a week. Had surgery. Came home on meds and some nursing we had to provide. Had to go back in 14 days to have stitches removed. Doc did a good job.
Now, the dog is doing great. Loves Vienna Sausages, a convenient way to hide her medicine. And did I mention that since her traumatic event she’s been sleeping in our utility room? When the temps dropped into the 20’s recently, I reasoned in her delicate condition it was too cold for her to sleep on the porch in her doggy bed. So, we brought it inside and she followed.
Yes, that room smells like a dog lives there. Fortunately, her bodily functions are in order, meaning she had some experience as an indoor puppy before we got her. I’m not sure how much longer all that will continue but so far, she likes it, so much that she lets me rub her head . . . and feed her . . . and water her . . . and let her out and in as she needs.
I’d say she’s done a good job training me.


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