Over the past month or so, I’ve spent a lot of time with dogs. I have figured out a couple of things:
1. Although I only really like about 40 – 50% of the people I meet, I like about 95% of the dogs.
2. I’m not good at remembering names and faces, except for dog names and faces.
I like dogs. I like their distinct personalities. I like their sense of humour. I like their pragmatic natures. Most of all, I love their loyal, loving, protective hearts. I’m feeling very squishy about dogs this week.
I get very nervous at gatherings, large or small, particularly when I don’t know a lot of the people there, but if there is a dog at the party, it’s all good. I’m the one in the corner playing with the dog, who doesn’t care whether I’m pretty or if I know anything about anything or if I’m a complete geek. All that dog knows is that I will kiss him and rub his belly and sneak him meaty snacks. I can get to know a dog in about ten seconds, and I don’t even have to sniff his butt.
I’ve never had a dog. My older brother was allergic, apparently. I’m not even sure if this is actually true, or just something my parents made up so we couldn’t have a dog.
Here are some great dogs I’ve known:
George (Great Dane) – my ex-boyfriend’s sister’s dog, an elderly gent when I met him. He thought he was a lap dog and he smelled horrible. An afternoon cuddling with George resulted in immediately laundering everything you wore that day, but what a love!
Muzby (unknown – maybe St. Bernard/Shepherd mix?) – George’s brother. A BIG lovely boy. Liked to bring people sticks to throw, although his “sticks” turned a game of fetch into a caber toss, and you had to be careful if he ran up behind you with a stick, because he could take your knees out.
George and Muzby’s brother Doat. Doat was actually a goat, but whatever, in his heart, he knew he was a dog.
My friend Martha’s lifelong series of dogs, including Max, Ralph, Gracie Wallace, Timbit, and many others. If it turns out that reincarnation is a “thing”, I want to come back as Martha’s dog. It’s a pretty sweet looking life, with lots of long walks, treats, soft beds, and love.
Bella, Linda’s smooth-haired collie, a well-behaved and calm girl who was my cats’ first dog encounter. Grace was ambivalent, but I think Miss Martha Muffin would really like it if I got her a dog. I was surprised on a few outings with Bella at the number of people who asked Linda if she was shaved (Bella, not Linda).
Floyd, who was some kind of super-mellow brown spaniel who hung out with me waiting for the dudes to finish their band practice.
Carly, a slightly excitable, super loving little terrier.
Freddie (basset hound) a former fat boy with a delightfully wondrous nature.
Daisy, Boss and Peggy, three silly, adorable pugs and their big brother Stryker (named after a hospital stretcher frame), a big silly white german shepherd.
Rookie and Lilly, a couple of golden retrievers, Jess, a cute little deaf redhead mutt and Kirby, who is some kinda black dog, all of whom I spent time with yesterday.
I’ve known bulldogs, chihuahuas, standard poodles, English sheepdogs, dobermans, Jack Russells, Newfoundlands and all kinds of other mutts. Almost without exception, I have been completely enamoured with them. And completely without exception, they have huge, wide-open, loving hearts.
About the only dogs I don’t like are “power dogs”. I’m not talking about the so-called “biting breeds”, like pit bulls, dobermans and rottweilers. They can be absolutely delightful dogs. I’m talking about dogs who are badly treated and trained to be vicious. I truly do believe the adage that there are no bad dogs, just bad owners. I think that sometimes certain people who, for whatever reason, lack personal power, like to get a dog to put between themselves and world. I honestly don’t think it’s breed-specific. Like us, dogs learn what they’re taught. If the world has been cruel and unfair to a person, they treat their dogs accordingly. A world that is cruel and unfair to humans doesn’t produce better humans, nor do those humans in turn produce better dogs.
I went through a phase you may recall a while ago, when I really, really, really wanted a dog. I had settled on a King Charles Spaniel. I met one at the farmers market a few weeks ago, and she was just as I thought, sweet and calm and loving. I am very aware that I don’t have time to devote to a dog right now, but having a dog is very much on my retirement list. Dogs get you out in the world, exercising, and meeting people. Dogs are the best listeners. Dogs give you someone to care about, who cares about you too, especially when things are tough. Dogs want to protect you, and please you. Dogs never lie. Dogs are true heroes.
I worry, though. Dogs don’t live very long. When our cat Gracie left us after 19 years, I was heartbroken. I still miss her, very much, every day. Cats are lovely, but I don’t feel like they need us the way dogs do. I think if I were to lose a dog after seven or eight years, it would just rip my heart out. I’m not sure I’m emotionally ready for a dog to come into my life for a little while, steal my heart, and then leave.
So, “who’s a good dog”, then, indeed? All of them.