"....... for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" Psalm 103:14

Must love dogs

My husband and I love dogs. We've both had dogs at various times in our past lives, before we met each other. I grew up with a dog, and loved him a lot. He died a long time ago, but I have very fond memories. My husband has had dogs too, one in particular that his heart can still ache for because she had to be "left behind" when they moved interstate, and he never knew what happened to her after that.

I'm definitely not a cat person
I have to say I've never really been a cat person. Maybe it says more about me than about cats, but to my mind cats just don't love you enough! Someone once sent me a funny email about a dog's diary versus a cat's diary - it pretty much summed it up for me. You can read it here.

My ex-husband was allergic to various things, including dogs and cats, so although the boys and I would have loved a dog, we were never able to have one. My eldest son, especially, was desperate to have a pet, so much so that in kindergarten when they had a theme on "pets" for a couple of weeks, he drew an amazingly complex picture describing the many pets we had at our home, including snakes, cats, dogs, and even a buffalo. We had none of these animals. Really, it broke my heart to see how desperately this little boy wanted to have pets, and it came as no surprise that he ended up with a dog soon after moving out of home.

A dog to warm my broken heart?
When my ex-husband left, I was tempted on many occasions to get myself a dog, even to the point of doing the research and visiting the RSPCA dog shelter to see if there was a dog that would be perfect for me. My close friends who were themselves dog owners encouraged me to go ahead with the plan.  They assured me that having a dog would be really good for me emotionally, and would be part of my healing journey. But I never actually got to the stage of being absolutely sure that I was ready for the commitment of having a pet. I always baulked at the last minute.

When I first got to know my husband and his children, they had a dog who was also part of the "shared care" arrangement. The dog, who belonged to my youngest stepson, moved between homes just like the children did, so he mostly came to stay at my husband's place each weekend. He's not a bad dog, but he wasn't very well trained. He'd been allowed to jump up on the furniture over many years, and was the main reason for the damage done to one of the couches. The dog is not the ONLY reason (there were 3 children in the house after all), but his grubby paws had definitely left their mark. After a while, after too many frustrations with this bad habit, he stopped coming with the children, and now he lives in one home only. Not ours.

My husband and I like to walk to the local dog park, and we enjoy watching the dogs frolic. I love the cute, ugly ones (because someone needs to love them). My husband prefers the manly ones - you know, the ones that have form and speed and impress with their agility. I was secretly delighted to find a man who really loves dogs. Not just tolerates them, but genuinely gets joy from dogs.

An "ours" dog?
Yes, we love dogs. We'll never have an "ours" baby, so having a dog would be kind of like our "baby". Yet I'm still cautious about getting a dog, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, we have very few extended family living nearby - I have my sons, my husband has a sister who already has a dog - so who would look after the dog when we go away? We don't really want to impose on others, and we're not sure we want to pay "kennel" fees several times a year.

Secondly, dogs are a big commitment. You have to train them, and feed them, and they get sick or injured. That can cost big bucks. A case in point - a while back my son's dog cut his paw while outside exploring. A few days later it had swollen like a balloon, and my son took him to the vet. One general anaesthetic, a minor surgical procedure, and $600 later, and my son was thankful that he had taken out pet health insurance with Bow Wow Meow!!! (No, not a shameless plug, but I had to laugh when he told me the name of the insurer).

Thirdly, I'm so hopelessly in love with my son's dog that I nearly cry when I think of bringing in a usurper. Ridiculous, I know, but I imagine his little heart breaking when he realises he now has to share us................. then he'd probably eat the little interloper anyway, so no, that just wouldn't work.

The best of both worlds
And so we remain dog-less at the moment. Well, almost. We get to dog-sit whenever my son goes away, and his "man's best friend" brings us lots of joy and laughs. So we get the best of both worlds really - a surrogate dog a few times a year, and the freedom to be dog-less the rest of the time (but I really miss him for a while when he goes home). We do still get to enjoy other dogs too - friends' dogs, random dogs. We like to pat them in passing, watch them interacting at our local farmer's market, or admire the cute ones that sit obediently under the tables at our local cafes. We see dogs we think might suit us, and we exchange questioning looks, no words necessary, but we're both pretty sure that we're probably not yet ready for the full-time commitment that comes with a dog. Maybe when we retire...........

I came across this once, and it warmed my heart. Apologies that I no longer have the source, but if it's you, please consider yourself acknowledged!

If a dog were your teacher, you would learn stuff like........
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride (or have a wee).
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
When it's in your best interest - practice obedience.
Let others know when they've invaded your territory.
Take naps and stretch before rising.
Run, romp and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting, when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout...... run right back and make friends.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you've had enough.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

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