Ode to my Dog

I am sitting on the couch thinking about a blog topic for today. I look down at my dog who is lying next to me, attached at the hip (well, thigh). My constant companion (when I am home). Always ready to dance at my joys and lick away my sorrows. So, here’s to you, Rafa, my dog. A musing on my answer to, “Why have a pet?”

Parade of Pets

For the first 20 years of parenting, any pets in my house were of the short-term variety. One daughter brought a goldfish home from school. Within a week, it was floating on top of its bowl.

Another daughter brought an anole home from school. The poor lizard refused to eat. And my poor daughter was a wreck as she watched it waste away. I finally suggested that we set the anole free in the back yard where it would live in its natural environment. I’m not sure what happened to the anole but my daughter felt a lot better.

Our longest-lived pet was a hamster named Little John. Aside from cleaning its cage, my main memory of him was the kids creating elaborate mazes for him to run through. He died on my 40th birthday. I felt there was something symbolic lurking there though I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Then…a Dog

Getting a dog was my idea. My oldest daughter was in college and my middle daughter was going to be leaving home in a year. I worried that my youngest daughter who was used to the boisterous interaction with sisters would be lonely with just me. She needed someone to play with, share her frustrations with. Well, if not some ONE than some THING.

Love All Around

Enter Rafa. A tiny fluffy ball of fur with two bright eyes and a button nose. He instantly became the center of attention. The girls love him. I love him. Strangers on the street coo over him. My father – who would love to adopt a dog of his own – loves him. My mother – who is clear with my father that this dog-adoption dream will remain but a dream – welcomes Rafa visits and surreptitiously gives her “grandson” cookie treats that are off limits at home.

Everything the experts say about the benefits of dogs has been true for us. We laugh more. We walk more (as in: trotting Rafa around the neighborhood several times a day). We feel the rush of joy that comes from being greeted when we walk in the door after a long day in the world. (I particularly love the wagging tail.) And, yes, my daughter and I have been comforted many times by cuddling up with this unconditionally loving little being.

Rafa is no longer a puppy. He is quickly catching up to me in age. Another joy: sharing middle aged concerns!

There are many jokes about dog owners who rhapsodize over their pets. I laugh at them, too. Because a lot of the silly stuff attributed to dog owners is actually true. I admit Rafa often reduces me to my silliest self. Another thing I am grateful for.

I will end with this: When we brought Rafa into our lives, I had a limited idea of the value of a pet. Over Rafa’s eight years, I have seen him transform a multitude of moments in the lives of many many people. I now know that pets are invaluable.

Share your favorite dog stories.

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