I’m a dog person. My whole family loves dogs. In fact, I think my first best friend was our family dog, Pepper, an overweight, cookie loving, temperamental Boston Terrier who we got when I was two years old. My parents had another Boston Terrier before that, named Buttons, but I don’t remember him. During my adult life, I’ve had three dogs. I learned the hard way not to get a pure bred because of health issues. My first “baby” was a little Schnauzer named Tyrone. He was good to me, but he had a mean side, and would sometimes bite for no reason. We aren’t sure exactly what was going on with that, but for the most part, he was a good dog. He died of pancreatitis at the age of 8, and then I found out that Schnauzers are prone to that. My next dog was a Boxer named Buster. He was VERY protective, and had beautiful markings. He loved me and my children, but wasn’t crazy about their father. If he played with the kids too rough, Buster would put his mouth around the back of their dad’s leg to warn him to leave the kids alone. Buster also ate the bumper off of his truck, so there weren’t a lot of warm fuzzy feelings between them. Buster died of cardiomyopathy at 6 years. Then I found out they were prone to that.
Now I have Andy. Andy is a small mixed breed….his mother was a Shih Tzu, and his dad was “wearing a sweater.” Andy was on his way to the pound, along with his brother, and was too small to be taken away from his mother. I took him, and a friend of my son’s took his brother. I saved him, but I know that he saved me too! We rescued each other. It was a very difficult time in my life, and we bonded immediately. Andy has been with me through a lot of hard times, and through a lot of happy times. Dogs always get most attached to one person in a family. I’ve been that person because I’m the one who takes care of them, and they know they can count on me. While they love the whole family, they tend to rely on one person the most. Andy is 14, mostly blind (especially in the dark), and almost completely deaf, and has a pin in his back leg from a fall off of the back of the couch, but he acts like a very young dog. Even his vet said that he would never know he’s an older dog by looking at him if it weren’t for the gray over his eyes.
Dogs know dog people, and dogs are a good judge of character. I have seen dogs go to complete strangers and fall immediately in love with them. I’ve also seen dogs growl at complete strangers. I believe a dog knows what kind of person you are, and if I hear Andy growl at you, or not want anything to do with you, then I have a different feel for you too! I trust my dog’s instincts! If a dog doesn’t like you, then you are the problem, not the dog!
I cannot watch the ASPCA commercials without breaking down in tears. I realize that is the intention of those commercials….feel bad, send money…….but it’s just too hard for me to watch. I have donated things to animal shelters, and do what I can. Animals aren’t in the situations they’re in because of choices they make. They are there because of the choices humans make. I grew up with Bob Barker telling me to “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.” I have followed that advice!
While people are making decisions on whether to evacuate their homes or not because of hurricanes or fires, some choose to stay because of their pets. Either there are no shelters taking pets, or they may have to be separated from their pets. I saw where some shelters were setting up cages outside of the shelters for pets. That would not work for me or Andy. He’s old, he would be scared and anxious. That would be very stressful for him (and me). No. If I couldn’t stay with my dog, I wouldn’t evacuate. I feel horrible for these people who are forced to leave without their pets. How can you leave behind a family member? They are NOT “just dogs,” or “just cats.” They’re FAMILY.
He’s more to me than just a dog. He’s like a 4th child to me. He knows when I’m happy, sad, afraid, or sick. He’s my friend. He’s my family. He understands me. He’s spoiled, a bit lazy, and has anxiety (definitely my dog!). He demands to be given treats when I open a can of Coke……therefore, I nicknamed him “Demandy” a few years ago. He is a worthless protector because he’s afraid of everything. He’s not a good critter catcher because he doesn’t see them. But he’s mine, and he loves me, and he never lets me be sad or worry all alone. He used to stare at the door until I came home. Now that he’s losing his vision and hearing, he lays in front of the front door, waiting for me to come back. He looks at me with one ear up, and the other one flopped down in his eye. His under bite makes him look like he’s smiling. I watch Al, my giant of a husband, snuggle with him on the couch, and let Andy kiss/lick his nose. I see him save pieces of his pizza crust to sneak to Andy, thinking I don’t see him (I don’t give him “people food”).
Yes, Andy is not only the king of his castle, and a cherished member of our family. He is also the best dog ever……