Thursday, May 10, 2007
What I've Learned From My Dog
Three years ago, Jeff and I became accustomed to hearing that all-too-familiar phrase: "How's married life treatin' ya?" and again and again we were made to reply with various words and phrases that fit within the metaphor. Now that we have done what 3-years married people do and gotten a dog, the new chorus sounds something like this:
“Aah. Dogs are good preparation for having children”
Some people, a few of you perhaps, think that is entirely untrue and ridiculous. After all, you can’t stick your child in a crate when you leave the house unless you want to wind up in a “crate” of sorts called jail. You can’t half-heartedly throw your baby into the backyard unsupervised, hoping that he or she doesn’t find a way to dig out. Dogs don’t require boobs or other special equipment to get sustenance. Children don’t poop or pee in response to command words. I can sit Buckley on my lap when we ride in the car, doing that with your baby means you're breaking the law and shamed by America just like Britney Spears. Those greatly functional and fashionable designer "pet totes” with mesh cut-outs don't work so well with babies.
So, yes, dogs seem less difficult and poor preparation for babies.
However, children don’t chase and corner birds and small rodents with the intent to kill and eat them (do they?). Babies don’t smell like an old mop when they get wet. Kids don’t sniff each other’s butts on the playground to greet each other. Small children don’t instinctively hump legs, stuffed animals or other small children.
But alas, the similarities abound. Which is why the majority of our friends agree that Buckley, our Softcoated Wheaten Terrier is preparing us fairly well for the transition of having kids. I’ll use the following points to illustrate this, with parental buzzwords in italics. While Buckley is growing like a sprout, he is still a puppy and liable have accidents indoors when his routine is out of whack. Schedule is important. If he naps too long or too close to bedtime, he is feisty and whiney. He has boundless energy, and we relish the opportunity to wear him out so he will crash at night. He does not readily obey when he is distracted by toys, friends, people, etc.. In fact, he proves himself to be quite stubborn. We have to adjust our life and schedule to account for our dog. Weekend getaways aren’t as easy. Bringing our “child” places means a car packed with pack n play (crate), snacks (food), bowls, treats, favorite toys, etc. We never had this much stuff to schlep when it was just me and Jeff!
Parents…are you relating yet? Buckley loves mud, dirty puddles, rolling in leaves, stealing other dogs’ (and kids') toys and eating other dogs’ food. He requires of us a newly heightened peripheral vision I’d only seen before in parents. Grandparents and neighbors love Buckley, but they don’t want to keep him forever. Add to that, Buckley is tad high-maintenance with a special gluten-free diet. Wheat gluten can agitate his tummy and is not as good for his hair (coat). Such a diet is recommended for the breed (not just Buckley).
This wonderful world of pet ownership vs. kid parent-ship collided beautifully last weekend when a caravan of us - pets and kids - arrived at my parents cabin in North Carolina for a smallgroup retreat. Peripheral vision activated we all kept watch on our respective charges. But our concentration waned and all of a sudden “mine” had laid a big un-tidy load on the floor of the house, then “Kristen’s” ran unknowingly through it, across the lovely rug with poopy footprints. When Buckley saw the running child he gave chase and said child then jumped on the couch to avoid his pursuer…making yet another brown footprint. We discovered the scene in its aftermath where frustration gave way to laughter. And in between, we acted fast and every spot was sprayed, scrubbed and removed with success.
Despite these teeth-clenching bumps in the road when I want to send Buckley on a one-way Wheaten Terrier pilgrimage back to Ireland, I sure do love him. Its hard to say no to that sad-eyed, long-eyelashed, black-nosed visage. I don't think Jeff and I are quite at Best In Show obsession, but we have our moments.
I think that in getting Buckley we've learned a little more about ourselves, and I daresay, about God. He has been known to use animals and creation to speak to people about His nature. Lest I seem like some sentimental sap, I must say that I enjoy few things more than the excitement with which Buckley greets us. He loves with no questions or conditions, just that little thumb of a tail leading his whole hind-end in hectic wagging back and forth.
PHOTOS: From Blood Mt., GA. Courtesy Marilyn and Matt.
Buckley loves hiking. He also gets hot easily with his thick Wheaten coat.
After a sunny hike to the top, Buckley's panting led us to a small puddle. We figured he may want a drink.
It was quickly evident he wanted a bath.
It was too late to stop him, and too funny to watch