The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.
When it comes to our dogs, many of us have gone well beyond the normal pet/owner relationship that we, at first, enjoyed. We gradually began seeing our dogs as children and started treating them as such and eventually they became one of us; adopting many of our habits and behaviors. I must confess that I am one such person. My husband and I have only one child and his name is Bud. Bud wasn’t always one of us. He used to belong to Brandy, our friends’ golden retriever. He was one of the smallest of six solid black puppies. Even though the black tongue he latter developed indicates that his father was the black chow who lived next door, he is still listed as a golden retriever.
He’s five years old now, weighs 70 pounds and is the joy of my life. At first I used to take him to the vet for his shots. Now I take him to the doctor for his checkups. He started out eating from a doggie bowl on the kitchen floor but now he prefers to eat at the table with a fork or spoon, of course just to be nice I hold the silverware for him. When he’s hungry he always tells me. Well he doesn’t actually tell me with words but he does pick up his bowl and drop it at your feet and begin licking it. This is very effective especially when company comes over and they get the impression that you never feed your dog.
And if you don’t see the bowl at first, don’t worry because he’ll make sure that he gets your attention. One time while I was away for the weekend my husband forgot to give him water. That night Bud carried his bowl up the stairs, jumped into the bed, tossed the bowl onto my husband’s chest and stood over him until he got up. My husband now offers Bud a drink of water every night before he goes to bed.
And speaking of water; Bud now prefers to drink out of a cup instead of a bowl and he likes me to hold the cup. Did I mention that he’s a little spoiled? Well he is. I didn’t mean to spoil him but I just couldn’t help myself. He seemed to have so many problems when he was a puppy that I thought he needed a lot of special care. First of all, he had allergies. At first the doctor wasn’t sure what he was allergic to. He eventually said it was fleas, but Bud was an indoor dog and didn’t have fleas. I had to give him allergy pills every day for two years and I had to give him a bath at least once a week. I’ve now decided that he was just allergic to dirt.
Another problem he had was tarter. This was probably due to the fact that he prefers chocolate ice cream to doggie biscuits. I didn’t plan to include this into his diet, but giving him a cone of his own kept him from stealing one from one of the three toddlers who I used to baby sit. Well, he didn’t actually have to steal one because they would each gladly share theirs, with him licking one side as they licked the other. Of course I don’t give him chocolate ice cream any more because I found out that chocolate is supposed to be very bad for dogs. Now he just gets vanilla ice cream, except on special occasions, when he can chose from a variety of favors such as peach, strawberry or butter pecan.
We attacked the tarter problem in two ways: one requiring a special trip periodically to his vet… uh I mean his doctor and the other an additional ten minuets of daily personal hygiene. He now has his own poultry flavored tooth paste and florid spray. I now brush his teeth and give him his florid treatment every night before he goes to bed and now the vet … uh I mean doctor puts him to sleep, literally, once a year to polish his teeth.
Bud’s diet also caused another problem. He gained twenty extra pounds and had to be put on a low fat diet and exercise program, and you know how diets are. As soon as you go off of one the weight starts to come back on, so Bud’s weight now has to be periodically checked and his diet changed accordingly.
Another problem Bud had was that he thought the children’s toys belonged to him. I suppose he got confused because I had given him all of my old stuffed animals to play with. I even bought him his own toy box. When the kids came over their mothers would bring a bag of toys for them to play with. The kids shared the toys just as they had shared the ice cream and after a while Bud thought they were his toys and now anytime any body gets a new toy Bud thinks it’s his. Of course he doesn’t mind sharing as long as you don’t try to take it with you when you leave.
So now you can see how Bud has become one of us. Eating at the table, bathing and brushing regular, getting regular checkups and taking care of his toys. But the way that Bud has really become one of us is by being himself. Only a real family member will play catch anytime you are in the mood, listen to your problems without ever giving advice and love you unconditionally.