My dog, Lola, is a real dog’s dog.
Case in point. She actually chews sticks. She buries things and digs them up later.
She catches frisbees. She does anything for a treat.
She also pulls on her leash, has too much energy for me, is afraid of baths, and has torn up all my flower beds.
She is a dog. Not an angel.
I was thinking the other day, if more people understood how the ideal dog can also be a pain sometimes, that good dogs take a lot of time and attention, then there would be fewer dogs abandoned or ignored.
This thought occurred to me as I drove down the street and saw so many furry little guys sitting out in the rain, ignored. Not mistreated, just ignored.
My own fur-baby was at home, ignored, as well.
I brought her in, bathed her, and kept her with us for the rest of the evening. I’m a sucker for puppy eyes.
Y’know, I thought to myself, there are lots of movies about how hard parenting, relationships, marriages, jobs, etc., can be. How they are challenging, and yet rewarding, and worth all the effort required to keep them healthy.
All the movies about dogs are heartwarming, tear-jerking, laugh-filled lies. Lies, I tell you. Sure, dogs are faithful, loyal, obedient, and wonderful companions. But it takes time and energy. There must be a relationship established and perpetuated. Just like any area of your life, you can just ignore your pet and expect him/her to remain perfect.
Okay, maybe I’m taking this a bit too far. At a certain age, dogs do mellow and develop those qualities. Perhaps, I am merely referring to puppies. It is important to note, though, that they are puppies for at least two years.
The average age for dogs to be “given up” is 18 months. Too soon. They haven’t had the chance to become who they are going to be yet. Surely you wouldn’t write off your child based on their behavior at age 14 or 15.
That’s why I love Marley and Me. It is heartwarming, tear-jerking, and laugh-filled, but also truthful. I love that the people didn’t give up on their dog. They loved him through it all. They were the faithful, loyal, and forgiving companions to him.
Perhaps with our pets, as with all our relationships, we should try to give as much–if not more–than we expect. Extend mercy when necessary. Discipline with justice, and train with kindness and consistency.
P.S. Many thanks, again, to Penny’s new Mommy who is giving her the mercy, consistency and love she needs.