For Dog People Only

There are two types of people.  Dog lovers, and terrible, horrible people, that are probably ISIS-sympathizers.  Now that I’ve alienated about half of my readers, here we go…

To say that we are a dog-loving family would be an understatement.  This downward spiral started back in October 2004, when we bought our first dog.  Before we were engaged, my wife and I had to discuss the possibility of dog ownership first, then what we desired by way of children.  She said from the beginning, that she wanted a yellow lab male named Atticus.  My choice was a long-haired black lab.  So we compromised and went with my wife’s pick[1].

We got Atticus in October 2004 and knew that he was going to be a handful.  It was kind of like that book Marley and Me, which is the story of a suburban family that raises a trouble-making yellow lab, who never dies and lives happily ever after[2].  Atticus was a very good dog.  And smart too.  You may think you know of a good, smart dog, but you would be sadly mistaken.  Over time, we turned into that couple.  The type that calls their dog “our baby.”  As nauseating as it was for me to say before owning a dog, we did view Atticus as part of our family.

Atticus

 

Something was missing.  It was like when parents have their first child, then decide they don’t want him to be an only child.  We felt as if something was lacking[3] with just one dog.  Friends of ours had a six year old yellow lab named Roxy.  She was notorious for getting herself into all sorts of trouble – be it escaping the yard or eating a whole bottle of “Gorilla Glue[4].”  Come to find out, these friends were unable to care for her and were looking for a suitable home to take her in.  Next thing I knew, we were the owners of not just one, but two dogs.  Another good[5] dog, Roxy was the perfect complement to Atticus.  Atticus was a person’s dog – always looking for affection, loyal, and obedient.  Roxy was a dog’s dog.  She would get into trouble, either by escaping our fence and running through the neighborhood, or getting into the baby rabbit nest in our yard.  She loved Atticus, and loved our daughter just as much.  Roxy died around Thanksgiving of 2013 at the age of 13.  Once again, there was a gaping hole in our family.  We knew that one dog was not enough, so when it came time to discuss getting another dog, we started our search online.

Roxy

We had done the breeder thing in the past.  This time we turned our search to adoption agencies.  The process took some time, but we ended up with two dogs from a rescue organization out of Tennessee.  We adopted Lydia, a year old Flat-coated Retriever mix[6], who fit right into our family.  She seemed to pick up right where Roxy left off.  My wife and I were cast aside as Lydia preferred the company of our daughter or Atticus.  It was a few months later that we found out how much the two dogs really loved each other. 

Sadly, Atticus died a few months after Lydia’s arrival, of kidney failure.  The loss was devastating to our family, to say the least.  That’s the strange thing about dogs – grown men have no problem admitting they weep like babies over their loss.  There are few times when it is acceptable for men to cry: a death of a dog, a sports-team championship, and the end of Field of Dreams[7].  Don’t mess with guys and their dogs.  Most men can watch horrible violence or social atrocities in movies or TV, but if a dog is harmed…watch out.

Prior to getting Lydia, I had no real idea what a dog rescue entailed.  Do yourself a favor.  Don’t Google it.  Or do.  I don’t know – why are you taking advice from a blogger?  We were able to adopt two dogs in the span of a year from a dog rescue.  This isn’t meant to be a ‘humble-brag,’ but it has worked for us and I would recommend anyone thinking of adopting a dog to seek out these rescues.  Why is this so important?  This may be a gross generalization, but in the south, animals are treated a little differently than in the north.  I’m not saying that we in the north east are better than the rest of the country – we are, but that’s not the point.  Up here, when a dog is abandoned or given up for adoption, it goes to the local shelter such as the MSPCA or Animal Rescue League.  If they don’t get adopted, they get sent to other shelters, and so on[8].  In the south, things are a bit different.  If said dog doesn’t get adopted in a specified time frame, it is destroyed.  Yup, right on the information card for the dog is breed, age, and date of execution[9]No pressure there.  This dog not the right fit for you?  No problem, we’ll just throw it in the dumpster out back.

I never saw myself as much of an animal rights’ activist.  But I think that version of doggy death row is a little harsh.  What is my point[10]?  There may be a pet population problem in the country[11], so why not help do something about it.  We did the whole breeder thing, and absolutely loved Atticus.  But had we to do it all over again, there is no doubt we would look to another rescue.      

That is when we met Ginger.  We swore to ourselves that we would take some time to let the loss of Atticus sink in.  We did.  A few days, in fact.  We didn’t know exactly what we were looking for, but again, we sought the advice of the same rescue organization where we got Lydia.  One day, we were sent video of sweet mixed-breed puppy named Ginger.  At least that’s the name she was given by the shelter.  She had been a stray and picked up by the local “Animal Services” and set for destruction later that week.  When she saw people her tail wagged vigorously and she sat, as if to show that she was more than just a homeless stray.  Well, it worked.  Before we knew it, we had two dogs.

Lydia and Ginger, great dogs.  I don’t doubt that there are some bad eggs in the system.  But these who knuckleheads have become part of my family.  Whenever they get on my nerves or get into trouble, I have to remind myself that they are family and how much of a void was left after the loss of their predecessors.

Lydia and Ginger

This blog was in hiatus during the time when I lost Atticus and Roxy.  Had I been actively writing at the time, I don’t know if I would have posted anything of significance.  The loss still hurts.  It always will.  But I’m glad to have known them, and hope that I made them happy to be part of the family.

Hopefully you are a dog person.  If you aren’t[12], I am truly sorry for whatever happened that caused your aversion to canines.  If there was no traumatic event, and have some excuse as to why you don’t like them (smell, mess, or their videos taking up too much space on Youtube), then why not re-evaluate your situation and try to make the world a better place.  Maybe not in general, but for that one dog, you will certainly change his world.

-Grumpy out.

 

 

[1] She wants me to add that I did end up getting the dog I wanted, which will be discussed later.

[2] I have been instructed to stop reading this book at the half way point. 

[3] Massive credit card debt?

[4] Somewhere in a veterinarian’s office is a “Gorilla Glue” mold of a canine stomach.

[5] With Roxy, “Good” was a relative term.

[6] I finally got the breed I wanted!

[7] “Dad….do you want to have a catch?”  It gets me every time. 

[8] If this is incorrect, please don’t inform me.  I keep telling myself this is how it works. 

[9] They may or may not use a different term for this.

[10] A common question for this blog.

[11] Thank you Bob Barker.

[12] You should be on a terrorist watch list in my opinion.

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