Yesterday I knew without a doubt, that I had graduated into the realm of being a born-again dog lover. It wasn't always that way. I was pretty much neutral about dogs most of my life, even though I've had one dog or another for the past 35 years. The only reason I have had various dogs over these years was because my husband and children were the dog lovers in the family.
For a non dog-lover back then, I definitely got the short end of the stick. Can you guess who did all of the crappy jobs? Like cleaning dog poo accidents from the floor? Like extracting huge and gross-looking blood-filled dog ticks from the butt with tweezers? Like giving mouth to mouth resuscitation to newly born pups? Like administering gastric tube feedings to the only surviving pup in a litter?
Yup. You guessed it. The Queen of Dog Neutrality.
So when our 15 year old dog died in May of 2012, not all of the pleading and begging in the world to bring another dog into our home, coming from my husband or child would change my mind - or so I thought. I was firm. NO MORE DOGS. Never. I did my part. I compromised more than I thought I ever could, over 3 decades. I was done. Definitely. NO MORE DOGS.
Okay, so I caved. Overwhelming pressure coming from my husband, child and a dear friend (who is a stellar dog owner) were too much, and cave I did.
This time, I was determined to have a different doggy experience than I ever had before.
Six weeks after she was born, which was September 1st, 2013, we brought home a puppy from Parkridge Goldendoodles. We named her Maple.
If someone told me 5 years ago, that I would be doing the following things with, and for a dog, I'd have said that he or she was plum crazy:
- give her a shampoo bath every 2 weeks
- blow dry her fur after her bath during the winter months
- make and cook her food from scratch
- consider myself to be her 'mom' (yes, I know, I can't even believe it myself)
- pluck the hair out of her ears every week
- discharge her anal glands periodically (no, you definitely don't want me to post a You Tube video of this procedure)
- talk baby-talk to her (yeah, I know, - completely ridiculous!)
- really like and care about every dog I see now (except for mean, aggressive dogs)
- rearrange my work-schedule so that I can participate in a hiking group that allows dogs to also participate
- take her everywhere we go: to our clinic, to the airport, to stores that allow dogs, on camping trips, . . . simply, everywhere
For 1 -1/2 years now, I have been behaving like this. I just chalked it up to weird behaviour due to menopausal transition. Nothing more than that.
However, yesterday, I knew that I had become a full-fledged born-again Dog Lover.
Our neighbour called me, and in a very polite and nondirect way, complained about Maple's barking.
When I got off of the phone, I thought, "suck it up buttercup". Dogs bark. That's what they do; just like birds caw, and children scream while having fun. Dogs indeed do bark.
But what clued me in to my new born-again status, was how defensive I felt about my baby. I had never felt like this about any animal before. This neighbour was criticizing my well-behaved, fun-loving, intelligent, affectionate, caring, enthusiastic, gentle and perfect creature, and I was not about to take off my rose-coloured glasses.
I knew I had finally crossed the line of no return, and was now reborn into a special group of people who are authentic dog lovers. I now welcome myself into this club of special people, and in doing so, I end this blog by expanding upon this born-again metaphor with a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson:
“You think those dogs will not be in heaven! I tell you they will be there long before any of us.”