By Suzanne Alicie
If you’re not a dog lover, then more than likely you are a little overwhelmed when you visit the home of someone who considers their dog a family member. I encounter this regularly. It’s almost funny to watch how other people react to how we treat our dog. Julia Williams has written a great post about being a Crazy Cat Lady, so I figured this would be a look at things from the doggie side of the fence.
Our dog truly thinks she is a person most of the time. When I chat on the phone with people and mention needing to run the vacuum again because Bear is shedding, I hear comments like “Dogs belong outside. How can you stand having all that hair everywhere?” or “Put her out until she stops shedding.” These people don’t understand that she’s never lived outside and she would be miserable if she wasn’t in the house with her people.
When I cook, she stands guard to make sure that no crumbs or tasty bits of our dinner hit the kitchen floor and yes, sometimes I drop a morsel here and there for her. Once the food is ready and we are all eating, she usually positions herself as close as she can get to me, often drooling on my leg while she waits for me to finish. She knows that I will save her the last bite and give her the plate to lick clean. Some people have serious issues with that too. It’s not something I even think about.
Our dog lives in the house with us, she sleeps in the bed with us when she wants to, she climbs into my lap when I watch TV – and yes, she eats off of people dishes. For some people this is just absolutely too much. When people are here to visit, I usually sequester her in the bedroom because she expects that everyone will let her lean her head on their leg while they eat. She also thinks that everyone should be swayed by those golden brown eyes and will pet her lovingly while slipping her CANIDAE TidNips™ treats for offering her paw over and over again.
Our dog is “a people” too as far as we are concerned. We talk to her, we play with her and we are used to her being close by at all times. I have a constant shadow wherever I go through the day. She curls up at my feet or on the other side of the sofa while I work, she follows me into the bathroom and when I take a bath she lays down beside the tub. If I’m doing laundry, I have a canine escort to the washer and dryer. If she happens to be napping and I leave the room, when she wakes up she will bark once kind of like asking “Hey, where are you momma?” When I answer her, she comes to my side wherever I am.
That’s right, I’m the Momma and my boyfriend is Daddy; our dog is not a pet, she’s another kid. We blame each other for spoiling her and giving in to her every whim. But to tell the truth we’re both guilty and the teenagers are just as bad about treating her like a person. They wake up in the mornings and call the dog so they get their “good morning” from her before anyone else sees them. They let her watch TV in their rooms and nap at their feet.
She is part of our family. She is loyal and trustworthy, she’s good company and she is a protective presence who defends our home against unwanted or unknown visitors. No one steps in our yard without her sounding the alarm, and no one comes through the door without one of us escorting them and telling her it’s okay.
In our family the dog is a lot more than a pet. She is a family member and she’ll never be shoved out the door because her shedding is a hassle; she won’t be shooed away because she wants a taste of our dinner. We’ll never callously be able to say, it’s just a dog. Because “it” is she, and she is Bear, and Bear is family.
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