Let’s talk about our pets! Since I’ve become a member of a group I used to mock and ridicule (“Dog people”), I find I understand pet lovers in a previously unimaginable way – and I love to hear their pet stories. Surely I’m not the only one here with a pet named after a Disney character (Well, Indiana Jones is Disney now, right?). Silly me, I could never understand how people could become so attached to animals. I mean – they’re not people, right? You can’t possibly love them in the same way you love your other family members – seriously, that’s just ridiculous! Ha!
Living in the country, we’ve had lots of pets over the years – farm dogs, cats, a couple of rats, a guinea pig, a lizard and a few temporary visitors on top of that. I like animals just fine, but never really had one that was just mine – unless you count a couple of goldfish named Zeus and Appolo I had in college (let’s not talk about them, hmmmmkay?). I never felt the need to be…let’s say…an independent pet parent. I was fine sharing family pets with The Fam.
In 2010, during the summer before Joseph started his Sophomore year in high school, I started thinking about how fast the time would fly by – he’d soon be graduating and leaving home and Raymond and I would be alone – with no children to tend to. I guess on some deep level, this thought scared me. I started thinking about getting a pet of my own – someone to fill the void. Our house had been, more often than not, filled with rowdy, noisy teenagers – I liked it that way! Once Joseph left for college, things were bound to be quiet. Too quiet maybe. Yup – I needed a plan. No, a dog wouldn’t be as good as a houseful of kids, but my first ever, all my own, inside-the-house dog would offer new challenges and opportunities to take care of someone. Raymond’s pretty self-sufficient and has never wanted to be fussed over – there was a decent probability without a diversion, my attention might focus TOO much on Raymond since, by default, he’d be the only one available to dote on.
My opinion about how people should behave with pets was completely changed when I met Henry Jones, Junior for the first time. Junior had spent the first 8 weeks of his life at a kennel in rural Illinois that specializes in raising excellent Aussiedoodles (Pecan Place Kennels). Aussiedoodles are a hybrid between Australian Shepherd and Poodle (standard poodle in Junior’s case). As we came face to face – he, surrounded by his brothers and sisters, and I, a bit nervous about how we’d get along – I took one look into those soft, sweet eyes and saw, not a dog – not an animal at all – but love. Pure, unconditional love and trust – I did nothing to earn, nothing to deserve. Junior and I just belonged together and we both knew it, beyond a shadow of a doubt, in that one, singular moment of connection.
So, that’s how I became a “dog person”. It didn’t happen gradually and it wasn’t something I’d planned on. I didn’t have to work on building a relationship with this member of another species – it happened instantaneously and took me completely by surprise. I read a book the breeder recommended by the Monks of New Skete called “How to be Your Dog’s Best Friend” before Junior and I met. I learned a lot about being a good family member to a dog and how to help that dog be a good family member in return. We still follow most of the rules the Monks laid down in the book. Do I wish that Junior jumped a little less? Sure. I absolutely wish he didn’t have to bark so loud whenever a car pulls in the driveway. But our dog is funny with a great personality and a tremendous sense of humor. He’s super smart and loves to do tricks and play games. He’s my constant companion whenever I’m at home and is always happy to see me no matter what – whether I’ve been gone 10 minutes, 10 hours, or 10 days.
So, what about YOU? What kind of pet to you have? Do you have pictures? Stories to share? Does you pet have a Disney name? Tell me all about it!