Dog days are a comin’

Published 12:54 am Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The rumbling began many years ago; the noise grew louder as the twins grew older, and now has become a loud roar in our ears. “Daddy, can I have a dog?”

We have procrastinated, hinted that the possibility is in the future, kept pointing out we do not have a fence (we must have the fence before we have a dog), but the want for a dog has become a deafening sound and our foundation of excuses has begun to crumble. A dog is a comin’.

It didn’t help that our family went to see the new dog movie “Bolt” in 3D at the theater. Yep, that cemented the deal.

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Just as the Obamas face the same dilemma as they move to the White House, the Williams family has the same situation in front of them. What kind of dog? Where to put the dog?

I have gone out of my way to keep this day from coming, not because I am against having a dog, but because I am against raising another living creature. One time I went so far as to buy the twins a toy dog that acted like a real dog. Cruel, but it sufficed for a time.

I am beginning to cave. I am researching dogs. Thereby, I found a passage about lessons that can be learned from a dog.

Since I could probably write a book about lessons learned from a child, it is about time I addressed the section of my readers who raise dogs either instead of kids, with kids, or after kids. The dog can teach us all a few good tricks.

First, it’s not like I have not had a dog before, just not since the twins. For many years, I could not keep a dog alive for long. My luck with dogs has been horrible. Thankfully, I have improved with kids. I love dogs — I just don’t love burying them.

One of my favorite dog lessons is “protect your territory.” Anyone who has ever had a small dog with a big dog mentality understands; it is truly a funny sight to see the little David take on the mighty Goliath. The goal of the dog is to mark his part of the world and dare anyone else to come in and mess it up. He fiercely guards that which is his own.

As a mother, I relate to this dog mentality, because my territory is my kids and I have to do my best to protect them whether from evil predators that you read about in the news or to protect themselves from eating too many Twinkies. As for marking my territory, just check out my kids and my mark is all over them.

Dogs never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride. I am the same. Maybe it’s from the days when my parents used to take a Sunday drive, but I love to get in the car and go for a ride. I want to see a change in scenery. If I were not married with children, I probably would have a convertible so I could stick my nose in the air and let the wind blow my hair just like dogs do.

The lesson is we should never NOT want for a change, to up and go somewhere. Don’t become too stale and settled.

Another lesson from dogs is always greet your family members at the door.

We sometimes forget the fine art of welcoming our loved ones. Do we wag our tales and dance around happily when the man (or woman) of the house returns home from a day of work? This is how a dog shows his true feelings. No one is so well greeted as by a dog — all the fanfare, barking, tongue wagging and pure delight shows that you have safely returned back to the dog’s territory. Shouldn’t we at least greet and welcome each other in similar fashion?

How about if that person has had a bad day? Do we treat him like a dog would; such as by being silent, sitting close and nuzzling them gently?

Dogs don’t have bad days. Why? They run and play daily. Do we? They drink plenty of fluids even when it’s from questionable sources and lie under shade trees.

Dogs don’t pay taxes, vote, or worry about whether the Saints win or lose.

These wonderful loyal animals never sell you out. They are dependable. If you get no love from any other source, you can count on unconditional love from your dog.

They like to eat with enthusiasm. This is the week where we humans do the same on Thanksgiving. We build up days of planning to cook, building our expectations, and then we pig out. We eat with enthusiasm. But dogs are excited no matter what you feed them, even if they get the same fare every day. Would we be wagging our tales if we got the same can of people food every day for years?

In dog theology, if you want what is buried, dig, dig, dig until you find it.

How many of us give up too easy. If we want something, do we hang tough and get it. If we want an education do we go the distance as long as things go smoothly? How many holes do we dig before we give up the bone?

We should take naps and stretch before rising. They are called power naps and some of us could benefit from them. Stress takes a large physical toll from us and recharging our batteries gives us the tools necessary to deal with it. As for stretching, this simple, natural act also relieves the tension in our bodies. When was the last time you had a good long stretch?

As with dogs, no matter how often you are scolded, or swatted with the newspaper, don’t feel guilty and pout. Just run right back and make friends again.

We should be able to take a paddling. Many Christians believe God disciplines his own. We are taught that if we love our kids, we will discipline them. How does the child handle the punishment? Do they learn from their mistake? Do they continue to repeat the mistake over and over? Do they still love the parent?

How do we handle it when the boss scolds us? Can we improve? Do we sulk? I have seen dogs sulk but the best way to cure that is to leave and come back. The dog will just be glad to see you!

Dogs may teach us many things, but for many of us, we will outlive our pets. So, they also teach us about death, that lives are too short.

So, for another Thanksgiving, I am grateful for my life and for those around me who are celebrating it, eating enthusiastically all the great food prepared with much love.

Next, year I will probably have a dog hoping that I stay as clumsy as always and drop food on the floor.