Monday, March 16, 2009


I would really like to have another dog. Ours died about a year and a half ago. I miss her; I really do. At least there was someone around the house other than me. And she was an excellent, four-legged "door bell."

She was, of course, far more than that. We got her as a puppy, and trained her to work with my wife (G3) in a long-term care facility. She was very smart, and easy to train. And she was very good at working with people. Being a Standard Poodle, she was an ideal size to sit in front of a chair, stationary or wheeled, and let people pet her. Some didn't like her, but most did, and a few even kept dog biscuits for her. And she and I had great walks. G3 and I would take her to an open space, sometimes, and call to her; she would end up running back and forth between us until she got tired. Sometimes, she would get so much snow and ice between her toes that it was painful for her to walk; that's when I would pick her up (no small dog, at 35 pounds) and carry her home.

Sadly, as she got older, she became blind, and developed other health problems. Those conditions shortened her life.

We'd had several other dogs before her. One, a small poodle, had a particular habit. If I lay down in the afternoon for a rest, I would take off my glasses and fold them up. (Nothing unusual about that.) As the legs folded in, they would make a particular "click, click" sound. The dog, upon hearing that sound, would head for where I was. By time I was lying down, she would be curled up behind my knees. (No, she didn't get to sleep there at night.) That dog's primary task in life was to take me for walks on a regular basis.

I want another dog. Problem: being a bear in my sixth decade, there is a reasonable chance that the dog could outlive me, or that we would have to part with said canine because we might have to move into an apartment. (That would happen, should we not be able to keep up the house, or ourselves.) Both of our children have two dogs each.

Another problem: if we were to get another dog, we would want one that doesn't shed. That, sadly, limits our choices.

And, it would also have to be a large dog that doesn't shed. Meaning a Standard Poodle or Portuguese Water Dog. Still further limitation.

I wish (in some ways) I could just be irresponsible and have a dog just for fun. And not consider the long-term implications for the other creature of God. Sorry, I just can't do that -- do that and be fair to the dog.

But I still want another dog.


Natalie said...

Yeah, me too.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

I know it would be difficult, Sir, but might you consider fostering dogs, for a canine shelter (if you have one nearby) - That would enable you to offer a great start to plenty of lovely woozles without the longer term implications? I know it would be very difficult parting with them when they are adopted by permanent homes...

As for long-living - I'd say go get your dog, we could all be here another three score and possibly ten more!

Gutsy Living said...

My opinion is get a dog when you feel that strongly about the love you have to offer. You're in your 60's, that's still young, in my mind. The only reason not to get a dog is if you're constantly traveling and don't have time to take care of it. My dog is hyper, even at 11, I ride my bike with her for exercise. She gives us so much happiness. I call her my only daughter, as I have 3 sons. Does your wife want a dog too?

The Blog Fodder said...

When I blogged about Eternity, I meant to add that if dogs don't go to Heaven, I want to go where they go. Life is lonesome without a dog. Big or small. They teach us how to love unconditionally. They also are good for what ails us, body and soul. There are lots of dogs that don't shed unless you are allergic then it is critical. Labs give love and lots of hair. Cockapoos are yappy but don't shed. But you want a real dog?

Anonymous said...

This letter went straight to my heart with the pain of an arrow finding its mark.

I was never a person who thought beyond "hey, it's just a DOG" until I became owned by Lucky, a Bichon Frise with attitude.

It was always his way or the highway until that fateful night when I literally saved his life from a baby bunny that hopped out from under a bush and scared Lucky into jumping vertically right into my arms. As he quivered and shook, he clung to me as I took him into the house and we sat together on the couch, staring out into the night, for the bunny with 4 inch teeth. (ok. but that's how Lucky saw it)

Then I stopped going on vacations, due to the fact that he would walk his paws bloody in his "vacation kennel" wondering if mom had deserted him.

He's now 17 and is 99% blind and waits for me to lift him on and off the furniture.

His kidneys are at 30% and we make trips outside EVERY 15 MINUTES.

The day he's no longer with me will be the day that I find out what hell is all about. He's not my "dog". He's my child. A child that doesn't talk back, slam doors, or hates me just because I exist.

His ashes will be buried with me, but in the meantime.......

The ONLY way to heal the hole in my heart (that is shaped like a dog) will be to have something to hold and love, that loves me back unconditionally.

But then what? What about his feelings when I'm gone? He won't understand. He'll wait for the one who "deserted him" until he arrives at the dog pound and waits to be carelessly euthanized by someone who shows no feeling in the action.

What is my responsibility? Should I look at it this way: "Well, he had a FEW good years with me............."


Anonymous said...

Bichons do not shed. But it costs a good $40 a month to have them groomed because their hair (it's not fur)curls up tight like a lamb's wool and it needs combed out or they develop skin problems from the tightness to their skin. My first dog was a Schnauzer (before I learned that they're more human than we give them credit for) and they don't shed either. My new dog of desire is a West Highland because they don't shed "much" and their hair doesn't need constant attention like a bichon. BUT, given my advanced age and illness, I will probably end up going to the pound and asking "which one needs love".

Then when I go before he does, well, at least the poor dear had someone, for a little time, who loved him deeply;

Rob-bear said...

Thanks for your thoughts, friends.

Natalie: Yup.

Woman and Gutsy: Great encouragement. I happen to know one of the directors of the local SPCA. Serve with him on a University ethics committee. The idea of fostering hadn't really come to mind. But I have read a blog of someone who does it.

Blog Fodder: Of course dogs go to heaven! And, yes, I want a real dog, not a floor mop without a long handle.

Dana: Thanks so much for adding your very poignant posts. What a great line -- "Which one needs love?" We're seeing a whole different side of you.