The dog days of our lives
Recently, Texas passed the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, which enforces humane guidelines for restraining pet canines outdoors. Unfortunately for me, the act fails to impose similar guidelines for the treatment of grouchy husbands and embarrassing dads.
This news about dogs has had me thinking a lot about these magical creatures whom we love so much that we’re willing to stand outside in nostril-chafing weather and praise – even applaud – them for soiling our landscaping. When was the last time someone scratched behind your ears and offered you a treat as you exited the restroom?
Actually, I’ll bet our two doglets would praise me for my bathroom habits if they could. (Maybe that’s why they insist on joining me in there – to return the favor.)
I truly think that God must have had at least two purposes in blessing humans with dogs. First, He wanted to give us a form of unwavering companionship, the kind that doesn’t mind (and even prefers) when we don’t smell so good.
Second, He wanted to demonstrate his imaginative power in creating an animal that routinely displays so much of the potential for good in people (unwavering loyalty, unconditional love, unending forgiveness, unbridled joy, etc.) – never mind the incessant yapping and carpet scooting.
I have some wonderful memories of the dogs in my life.
The first dog that I could call my own was an apricot-colored toy poodle named Fluff, gifted to me by my parents when I was a kindergartener in the 1970’s (No, I wasn’t into using people names for my dogs, though I did consider “Art Garfunkel.”)
Fluff’s claim to fame was that he was paper-trained, meaning that instead of going outside to do his business, he used a variety of local periodicals arrayed on my bedroom floor. This probably explains why I was always caught up on current events, but I’m still afraid to get out of bed in the dark.
My family soon adopted a second dog – a beautiful springer spaniel/golden retriever mix named Happy, whom I met when she was still a puppy with her littermates. Ironically, my first meeting with Happy included having her mother mistaken my left buttock for a Texas Roadhouse dinner roll.
Because the bite broke the skin, there had to be an investigation, which, thankfully, revealed that there was no risk of the mother dog catching rabies since I was current on all of my vaccinations.
When I was in middle school, our canine menagerie grew again with the addition of Sparky, a hyperactive Boston terrier who quickly earned the nickname “Spaz.” Due to a desperate need for more discipline, Spaz and I attended formal obedience training one summer, but regardless of how much we practiced and how many Oscar Mayer wieners were offered, Spaz could never teach me to sit and stay properly.
After my marriage and the purchase of our first home, my wife and I decided to make a trial run at having children by adopting two pet pugs, Wilkie and Benny, both of whom lived a full 16 years. Of course, we have since discovered that having human babies and having dogs are extremely different experiences–except for the long-term expense, the slobbering, the chewing, the cleaning up of someone else’s “accidents” . . . . Wait a minute. How are they different, again?
Seriously, though, dogs have been an important part of my life so far, and I hope they always will be. Our current doglets are Bailey – a terrier mix who looks like the offspring of an Ewok and that fuzz you find behind the refrigerator, and Biscuit–a Maltese mix who looks like the offspring of the same Ewok and Sam Elliot’s mustache.
Bailey and Biscuit bring our family a lot of happiness, and now that our three teenage daughters are more independent, it’s a comfort to my wife and me that the pups are always excited to see us and spend quality time with us – especially when we go to the bathroom.
Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. His columns have been featured in Texas Escapes magazine, The Shreveport Times, The Longview News Journal, and The Kilgore News Herald. Contact Graves at email@example.com.