Roger Caras, president emeritus, ASPCA: “For me a house or an apartment becomes a home when you add one set of four legs, a happy tail, and that indescribable measure of love that we call a dog.”
I know I’ve written a lot in the past week or two about our two precious pooches, but I’ve got to tell you just one more story before I “lay off” them for a few days.
You know how I’ve always said that Maddie is Ted’s dog, and Bear is mine. Nothing proves that theory more than what happens anytime Ted goes kayaking, which he did on Saturday (it was 51 degrees, and I personally thought he was a little nuts for venturing out on the water, but far be it from me to mention that if he tipped over he might get a little chilly swimming to shore . . . far be it from me to mention that).
I think Ted’s big motivation to kayak that day was he would be easily able to get into the boat from the shore of the lowered lake, rather than having to do the balancing act he normally does entering it from the seawall. The dogs were both outside, and they always go nuts when we go outside the fence and leave them shut up behind it. By the time Ted lugged the kayak out of the boathouse, then came back into the yard to put on his gloves and lifejacket, Maddie was about to have a coronary right there on the lawn. She knew he was going out on the water, and unlike when we take out the pontoon boat, she knew she wasn’t going to go for a ride.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I cannot imagine what our lives would be like without our pets. As a girl growing up, I only had one dog – his name was Lucky. My parents didn’t believe in having dogs in the house, so Lucky lived outside, and as outside dogs tend to do if they aren’t fenced in and “fixed”, Lucky roamed the little town of Sylvester freely. My dad would get a phone call at least once a week from someone on one side of town or another, asking him to “come get Lucky – he’s visiting his girlfriend over here”. Lucky left one day for one of those visits, and he didn’t return. After a few days with no phone call, my parents began to call around themselves, but no one had seen him. I was heartbroken, but eventually convinced myself that Lucky had found a home where he could spend the rest of his life sleeping in front of a roaring fire when night winds blew cold. It was then I swore to never own a dog again that couldn’t live inside and be part of the family.
As I get older, I’ve come to realize that there is no one who can appreciate what a pet has to offer better than us empty nesters. The happiness we are experiencing during our “senior years” is only enhanced by our little weiner-dog and the big FurFace. Ted and I can go outside for five minutes, and they welcome us back with the same enthusiasm they use after we’ve been gone an entire day. They know exactly – to the minute – when it is supper time and will drive us crazy until we get up to fill their bowls. We throw balls for them in the house every night for 15 minutes (something we never would have allowed our kids to do), and welcome them into bed with us every night. I find it annoyingly funny that the only time Maddie loves me more than Ted is at night. I sleep on my side with my legs pulled up, and Maddie sleeps right in the bend of my knees. It is her “spot”. Bear, who we never had any intentions of allowing on the bed, began – about two months ago – to sneak onto the end of the bed after we were asleep. It’s a king-size bed, so that is possible. At first we were adament about making him get off, but now we actually call him into the bed with us. He still sleeps at the end, and he’s learned the precise spot where he has to lay so he won’t interfere with Ted or I stretching out to our full length.
In exchange for food to eat, a bed (our bed) to sleep in, and a roof over their heads, they put their heads in our laps when we’re sad and laugh and dance with us when we’re happy. They never judge, they don’t hold grudges, and they act as go-betweens during little spats – as in, “Bear, ask your daddy to turn off the football game,” and “Maddie, ask your mom to get real.”
Collectively, they are 96 lbs. of unconditional love. And that’s the best bargain I know of anywhere on this planet.
Come on up north to see what’s happening on Mackinac Island in the Off-Season at http://bree1972.wordpress.com.