Life is Ruff So Get a Dog -or- That K9-o-Mine is Devine
As far back as I can remember there was always a dog in the picture. Our first dog was a Black Labrador named Mini, named after one of my father’s old Mounty (RCMP) buddies. Our second, Mini 2. Next was a Beagle named Oscar (no idea where the name came from). Then there was our dumb-as-a-post Shar-Pei Marty (I was a huge fan of the “Back To The Future” trilogy). So, I guess I can say with a degree of certainty that I’m a dog guy.
In October of 2013 we lost our Bernese Mountain Dog, Toblerone. She lived longer than the average Berner to 10.5 years and was the first dog who’s death I was present for. I took her in to the vet after a change in her behaviour. She had become lethargic and would lie in the same spot for the entire day. I figured they’d give her some meds and send us packing but a quick ultrasound later and the next thing I knew she was fitted with an IV of pentobarbital and within seconds she was gone. We had been forced to make an on-the-spot decision to have her put down due to a close-to-rupturing spleen. I used to think people who lost a pet were a bit strange when they’d be going on like they’d just lost a child or something to that effect. Then we lost Tobie and it put it all into perspective. My wife and I were in each other’s arms in the examination room balling our eyes out. We were devastated.
A little while later we welcomed Guinness. He was our second Berner. We decided to skip the time-consuming, headachy, stay-up-all-night puppy thing and get a dog that was well on his way into adolescence. Guinness was eight months old and fully housetrained when we adopted him. He was quite brilliant too. Not do-my-taxes brilliant but still a pretty damned smart dog all around. It was completely surreal, sitting in a living room with wooden floors devoid of any finish or stain, filled with Bernese Mountain Dogs lying around like they owned the joint.
I’ll be honest. It took me a while to warm up to Guinness. I felt at the time that we got him too soon after Tobie’s death. He was a successor to Tobie and NOT a replacement. To make matters worse, he hated my guts. Our misandristic dog grew up around women due largely to the fact the breeder’s husband spent the first several months of
Guinness’s life in hospital with major health complications. Anyhoo, being
the charmer that I am, I won him over fast enough with butt rubs and well-timed belly scratches. Feeding him scraps of food secretly from the table didn’t hurt our relationship much either.
Cesar Milan (the Dog Whisperer) said, “Dogs don’t rationalize. They don’t hold anything against a person. They don’t see the outside of a human but the inside of a human.” I couldn’t agree more. All of the dogs in my life, as different as they were personality-wise, seemed to have at least one thing in common. They knew when I was sad, glad, mad or… anything else that rhymes with these. They were ALWAYS there for me. I could ignore them, forget to feed them or skip taking them for a walk and they’d still give me unwavering love and loyalty. What other animal gives you that? Not cats, that’s for damn sure.
According to lifehack.org, owning a dog can have some surprising health benefits. Among them are less stress and a decrease in general illness. Of course, the same can be said for not having children.
So, if you’ve been thinking about taking the plunge and introducing a canine companion to your family ensemble, I couldn’t recommend it enough!! Training them isn’t rocket science either. Consistency is the key. They take so little and give so much!