Sep 22, 2012

"Just A Dog"?

A family member recently criticized the concept of having a dog as a pet in these crazy financial times. The family member claimed that dogs were too much trouble, too expensive and too time consuming. Of course, that family member wasn't talking about dogs in general. That family member was talking about our dog, George W. 

And this family member wasn't the only one who was dogophobic. Another family member, while visiting us, exclaimed rather loudly. "That dog is too big for your house", and George W, still a sensitive puppy, thinking he was being yelled at, promptly ran and jumped his 70 lb. terrified self into my lap.

These family member's honesty was refreshing, in a way. That honesty was much more refreshing than the dog owners in our neighborhood who have dogs, but only pretend to want a dog. You've heard these dogs. They're the ones who keep you awake at night and annoy you during the day with their constant barking because they've been kept alone outside. All day, all night. Every day.

 Dogs: Too Much Trouble?

  When we first got our German Shepherd mix puppy from Multnomah County's Animal Shelter ten years ago, he was a big deal --he was a handful of trouble! 

During his first few weeks with us, he chewed off a corner of our Hardiplank siding in the backyard. After the "chewed off siding  incident", we realized we couldn't leave him out of our sight for one second unless he was in his crate. Over the next few months however, even when leaving him out of our sight for as little as  2-3 minutes,  this innocent looking dog managed, on separate instances, to chew off a corner of carpeting on our stairs,  he ate an an entire box of Entenmann's donuts, 3/4 of a Papa Murphy's pizza,  4 lbs. of  home made beef jerky (which were wrapped in saran wrap and sealed in a Tupperware container),  two whole loaves of bread, and several shoes. 

Whenever we discovered his "fun", we'd never yell at him. It wasn't his fault. He was doing what came naturally. We knew it was our fault for failing to keep tempting items out of reach. (Bad dogs, however, do seem to have more fun.)

In spite of all this initial mayhem, over the next few months we dialed in on puppy proofing the house and found the proper mix of Nylabones, hidden Kong toys filled with frozen treats, and lots of running around outside to keep him happy and out of trouble. Our dog George W. has been an absolute "gentledog" house dog, no crate needed, ever since. 

 Too Time Consuming?

 Our family members are correct. Having George W. is extremely time consuming.  The Mrs. takes George W. for walks in the morning. We take him to Thousand Acres or the Sandy River behind the Troutdale Airport as often as we can. George and I play fetch most nights in the back yard, in the dark, before we go to bed. When the weather is mild and it doesn't get hot in the car, he goes with us when we run errands.

Berry Picking
Playing fetch in the Sandy River

On the lookout

What do you mean, no squirrels in the ocean?

It's too cold! Let's go inside and have snacks!
One more check in the mirror before meeting guests.  

 As a matter of fact, George W. forced me to clean up my "potty mouth" while driving.  When another driver would cut me off in traffic, I used to drop a few loud "expletives". However, with George W. in the car with me, whenever I dropped a loud expletive, he'd think he was the one being yelled at, and hop into my lap. Believe me, you haven't lived until you try to drive with a 70 lb. dog in your lap. So no more raised voices or profanity in the car with the dog present. Doggone it, anyway!
 Indeed, George W. is very time consuming.

So What's The Big Deal About Dogs?

That's what these relatives of mine are really saying, isn't it? Here's why dogs are a big deal: There is no such thing as "just a dog". Yes, George W. is a dog, he's not a human.

 However, George W. is our companion. He is a member of our family. He is extremely gentle and good natured. He is intensely in tune with our emotions. He is eager to please, always. He is always, always happy. He is goofy. He is never in a bad mood. He is a great playmate and fellow outdoor explorer. He is smart. He is fearless. When one of us is sick or in a bad mood, he never leaves our side. Ever.

We do our best to give George W. a great life, but George W. gives us so much more in return. He is one priceless dog. And that's the big deal about dogs.

Our 70 lb. lap dog.
I wonder if these family members so critical of George W. have ever visited the abandoned animals at the Multnomah County Animal Shelter in Troutdale, or the Oregon Humane Society in Portland. If they saw all the dogs and cats there, all desperate for companionship, maybe they'd see with their own eyes there is no such thing as "just a dog."

1 comment:

MAX Redline said...

All animals are time-consuming, but the rewards, as you note, are well worth the investment. I hope that your readers are motivated to consider your positive experiences.