BabyGirl woke up in the night last night, not an unusual occurrence in my home. After tending to her and returning to bed, I found I couldn’t sleep…also not an unusual occurrence. As I lay in bed, listening to Big Boy Bo snore, I laughed to myself. He’s really good at snoring…even when he’s awake.
This morning, I awoke and listened to him in his usual routine of stretching, yawning, shaking, and jumping down from the bed and heading to the back door to check on his yard. I snuggled with Crazy Baby Daisy as she ran through her daily routine of yawning (with a quiet little girlie yelp to punctuate), stretching, shaking till her ears create a syncopated rhythm, and then trotting off after her Big Boy Bo before she misses out on some excitement.
I thought to myself, “People who don’t have pets are really missing out.”
My experiences with my doggies have run the gamut. I’ve paid hundreds of dollars to vets to fix problems and cure disease. Heck, even recently, I’ve paid hundreds of dollars to vets when nothing was wrong! I’ve attended obedience classes and nearly died of mortal embarrassment as my four-legged pupil made a fool of me and behaved as a saint for the teacher. I’ve read book after book on dog training, dog care, and dog language. I think I’ve grown to become quite a fair and just Alpha Dog, who can command the respect of many* dogs – even unfamiliar. I’ve been through groomers good and bad, vets good and bad, dog sitters good and bad, foods, treats, kennels, you name it. I’ve cried as we’ve rushed them to the pet ER. I’ve prayed that I won’t have to say good-bye just yet, not this time, I’m not ready yet. I’ve had sleepless nights with my dogs just as a young mommy does with her babies. My career as a Doggie Mommy has had it all.
I think all pet owners would agree, though, that there’s an intangible element of being an Alpha Dog (or cat? Do they have alpha cats?) that cannot be matched. Without pets, particularly dogs, you’re missing out on a very special guardian angel.
Recently, I was at my brother’s house. Ours plus theirs made three dogs together. As I took a phone call that brought me to tears, I no longer sat alone on the floor by the couch. My lap was warmed by a big, fluffy white head and floppy ears. Sweet Thomas, my nephew doggie, came to comfort me, just as a good friend would come put their hand on your back or give you a hug as you cried. Thomas curled up beside me and didn’t leave my side. He was sad for me, with me. He was there to comfort me, protect me, make things better in anyway he could. Thomas slept with me that night, after having barely acknowledged my presence in his home prior to that moment. (Like a child, he had been too busy hanging with his cousins.)
Years ago, I remember sitting on the floor of our apartment sobbing, my face buried in the guest bed. I’m not even sure what upset me so, perhaps a fight with FireDaddy…plus, I was very pregnant with BigGirl. Bo, at the time just a little adolescent doggie, still wild with energy and very vocal, gingerly crept towards my face. His front paws leading the way, tentative and cautious, demonstrating his submission and good intentions, Bo came to me to help. He licked my tears and stayed with me. Calmly. Patiently. He knew I needed him. He was still and quiet. He was loyal. He stayed with me through his dinner time without so much as a hungry rumble. I was never alone.
My mother tells of a time she was alone, recovering from surgery. She aw0ke from a nap feeling the presence of her loyal poodle, Hershey. She could feel him lying right up against her side, like he always did. Only, Hershey had grown old, blind, and feeble years before. His life had lost its quality and my parents had already made the hard decision to put him down. They had cried and said good-bye on a surreal day, weeks and weeks prior to this one. Mother had already grown used to his absence. On this day, though, she could swear he had been there, guarding her. Tending to her needs. Showing his love and loyalty, just as doggies do.
Pastor Frank, the man who married FireDaddy and I, once told us, “A woman is like a mirror. She will treat you the way you treat her.” I think this is true of women (at least myself), but even more so, I think it is true of dogs. I’m sure there are tons of people out there that would argue my points and say, “But I had a dog and it was nothing like that.” Just as they say dogs can smell fear, they know your heart. Nine times out of ten, if you love them, they will love you. If you open your heart and welcome them into your life as a true member of your family, not just an outside inhabitant of your yard, they will never let you be alone. It takes time, but it’s an investment that will pay you back tenfold.
This morning, as I do many days, I gave thanks for my little four-legged guardian angels on Earth.
(*Note: I did not say ALL, but many. Darn that little Teddy Dog. His brother wasn’t as stubborn, though.)