Friday, October 22, 2010

Don't Sweat the Dog Stuff, Because it's All Dog Stuff

I am a dog lover.  The scratch on my chin made by an exuberant Husky at the mere mention of the "w" word (the "w" word is walk, and even though we spell it out, I swear their ears perk up like they have learned what those four letters mean) is a testament to that.  Most of the time my body resembles that of someone who battled a thorny bush and lost horribly.  Although there are only three dogs remaining, they are my canine children and I love them dearly.

If you are a neat freak or a germaphobe, you would not last ten minutes in my house.  You would immediately notice the pine straw deposited on the carpet from shaggy tails, the tumbleweeds of dog hair, or that distinct smell of soggy doggy that no air freshener can defeat.  There are various pee spots from the males marking territory or overactive bladders.  Not to mention the dog hair that inevitably ends up a special seasoning in whatever meal I actually get around to cooking.  It's a given.  Dog hair is either cooked into the dish or will end up there via your clothes.  When I go to sleep at night with my three dogs right there with me, I put a thin layer of Vaseline on my face to help keep it soft, so I always wake up with a face like the wolfman from shedded fur that sticks to me as I sleep.  I live in fear that one day I will go to the doctor with a stomach ache, and he'll tell me I have a fur ball.  Of course it would make the news, and eventually post on YouTube, and I will be forever immortalized as the woman with the ten pound hairball.  You can't just cough that up!

There are times when I think back of the brief period when my beloved Sheltie died and I wasn't ready to get another dog, or when our beloved mutt Sega escaped and got killed by a car.  I tried to distance  myself from animals so I wouldn't have to see them die, sparing myself of that pain.  But what I didn't realize was I was robbing myself of the joy they bring during their short lives.  

I wasn't ready for a dog when the man I married decided he had to have a yellow Lab.  I didn't want a dog yet.  We walked with the breeder past these outdoor kennels, with these happy friendly Labs running along the fence.  My heart began to thaw.  By the time we got to the litter we were to choose from, my heart was melting fast.  When we saw the small yellow body sleeping in his food dish, I looked up at my husband as a female yellow lab puppy came over to me and said, "Can we get two?"  It was decided that day, my destiny.  I believe we don't choose our fate; rather, it chooses us.  Mine was sealed that day.

One dog led to two, because come on, it wasn't fair to Austin to have to chew on things to keep himself occupied, he needed a friend.  That friend turned into Dakota, who in turn had a litter of seven puppies, which of course led to three dogs in da house, which led to another litter and another dog.  I knew then although I would have kept every puppy if I could have that I had reached my limit.  Four dogs are a lot of work, especially when you're doing the majority of the care yourself.  I didn't complain (much), because I was the reason for this development.  So accidents, dog hair, dog smell, well, you get used to it after awhile.  Having a pristine house never really mattered to me.  Having furniture no one could sit on because I didn't want it soiled or ruined wasn't gonna happen.  So my life became a house of falling apart furniture filled with the love of good dogs.  It doesn't matter to them, though.  They love me and they don't really care what the house looks like.

When Austin passed from cancer, I was fine with the three amigos, Dakota, Titus, and Jack.  Until a friend of the man I married was giving away a Husky, another dog the man I married always wanted.  I was less than enthused.  I had adjusted to life with three, and was quite content.  My traitorous human children betrayed me by saying we should take him.  I saw more work and expense for me--not to mention trying to add a strange dog to this tight-knit pack.  I couldn't see it working.  But...the crazy dog lady gave in.  It was rough at first.  Dakota did not like him at all.  But when I saw him, that heart of mine was a puddle on the floor, and I thought well, there are worse things that four dogs (like dog hair, pee spots, pine straw, dog smell, dog breath, fleas) but I accepted my fate.  

Now we have just the three--Dakota, Jack, and Thor, after losing Titus to cancer--but I still stopped and took a quick gander at the woman holding a "Puppies" sign in the parking lot at WalMart.  Lucky for the man I married they were Chihuahuas for a price and not Golden Retrievers or Labs for free!

Even the man I married finds time to complain, about the hair, dogs on the bed, bones laying around to be stepped on, and dogs always walking in front of the cable box when he's trying to change the channel.  We've had dogs chew MP3 players, pencils, toys, lip gloss, cords, books, and just about anything else you can imagine.  I used to sweat the dog stuff, but not now.  It doesn't change anything, and it causes me to lose valuable time that could be spent playing with my three wonderful canine children.  I've realized my yard will never have grass, my bushes will always need pruning, and my front porch with the railings falling down might never get fixed.  I might never have nice furniture, or a bigger house, or new linoleum in the kitchen.  But that's okay.  I've got a great family, both human and dog, filled with love, laughter, and memories.  Let everybody else keep up with the Joneses, and compare material possessions.  I'll take three dogs waiting to shower me with kisses every time I walk in the house.  Where else would I ever find such unconditional love and adoration?  No diamond ring or dozen red roses could ever give me that.

So I won't sweat the dog stuff, because it's all dog stuff.  And it's all good.

(on a side note-- I highly recommend reading the book "Dogs Don't Bite When a Growl Will Do" by Matt Weinstein and Luke Barber.  I've learned a lot about living my life the way my dogs live theirs--with excited happy abandon!)