Beethoven. Lassie. Marmaduke. Milo (or Otis). Dogbert. Benji. Odie. Old Yeller. Scooby Doo. Clifford. Cujo.
You know those are all dogs. And you can probably pick them out of a doggy lineup, and you can probably tell me what kind of breed they all are. With the exception of Dogbert, who I think is some kind of chihuahua although I wouldnt say that to his face.
You know these movies too: “Lady and the Tramp” “Marley and Me” “Homeward Bound” “101 Dalmations” “Air Bud”.
The point is, people love dogs.
The mailman in me wants to hate them. Everyday: “WOOF WOOF WOOF BARK BARK” which I loosely translate as:”Hey u mailman! I know you can hear me! I told you yesterday, go away! Imma get you, sucka! Imma break down this fence and im gonna bite you,then im going to track down your family and bite them too! Ooh I cant wait! I cant wait!” Every. Single. Day. And I bark back like “Mutt, you aint biting nothin! Go ahead and bark! I was here yesterday, I’m here today, and I’ll be here tomorrow! 6 days a week, maybe 5! Smell this? Thats Old Spice, get used to it! ‘Fore I stick my dog spray up your right nostril and light you up! You’ll be rubbing your face in the grass for a good 10 minutes!”
I can’t lie. I like dogs.
Turns out, a vast majority of us Americans do. If you look up the numbers on the “internet”, approximately 1 billion people own at least 1 dog. Can’t make that number up. If you want to go deeper into the numbers, about a million of those dogs reside in the 93308 zip code, with half of those dogs running around loose, and about half of THOSE being pit bulls. Hey, the numbers are there, look ’em up. The proof is in the pudding, whatever the hell THAT means.
Seriously though, most dogs ARE pretty likable. Some reasons:
1)They’re loyal. They’re never looking to change families, never looking for greener pasture. You’re in their pack, they’re in your pack, and thats that. Occasionally you’ll have a dog thats a “runner” where you open the door, whether its the front door or the back gate, and theyre gone. But those dogs are just adventurous. Or stupid. Which leads me to
2)They’re stupid. Calm down. I’m not saying YOUR dog is stupid. I’m sure YOUR dog is the Einstein of dogs. But for the most part dogs are happiest chasing a thrown ball, tugging on a toy rope, and peeing on whatever they come across. Half the time theyre barking, they have no idea why. A good time to them is digging a hole where you dont want a hole, or chewing up whatever you foolishly left in their line of sight/scent. Pretty simple. Pretty darn stupid. In a complimentary way.
3)They’re always happy to see you. Like “they have issues” happy. Like you leave to the store for 5 minutes and come back and they act like they were never going to see you again. And thats good, right? Its good to feel missed.
I’m sure there are some more reasons why dogs are great, like companionship and all that, but i’m losing interest. Don’t act like you aren’t losing it either. Its ok. I can take it.
However, there IS a drawback to dogs: they die waaay too soon. OOOOh snap, just got serious up in here!
I remember my first dog. I mean, really though, who doesnt remember their first? Mine was a gift for my 8th birthday, a little puppy I named Rex. Just a mutt, with some lab in him, and God knows what else. And he was a good dog. I have fond memories of him, plenty of pictures back when cameras had “film” and you had to take the pictures to get “developed”. I’m really aging myself here. Anyway, my favorite pic has to be of the whole family, Rex included of course. It was one of those family pictures where Dad has to set the camera up on the tripod, hit the button, and then has approximately 1.4 seconds to get into the picture before the picture is taken. Well, in that 1.4 seconds, Dad got in the pic and of course Rex was so happy to see him (heck, he’d been gone for a WHOLE 1.4 seconds!) that he turned around and licked his face, making us all laugh right as the camera went off.
Fast forward a few years. I’m 21, 22 and I’ve moved out of town, from Lompoc to Bakersfield. One day I get a phone call. Better come home, son, Rex isnt doing too well. So i get home to Lompoc later that evening and walk in the house, and Rex is just laying there in the living room (strictly an outside dog, so far not a good sign). A worse sign is when he sees me, he doesnt get up. Doesnt even try. I mean, heck, I’m his boy, you’d think he’d get up for me, right? Can’t do it. He flicks his tail a couple times and thats it. Cant even lift his head, the poor old guy.
The next day we all pile into the van and head to the vet. We know its not going to be a pleasant trip. We get there, and just as i thought, theres nothing that can be done. We’d already discussed it on the way there. We weren’t going to allow him to suffer anymore. Can’t do it.
So we’re all gathered around Rex, just us 5 Vandivers and the vet. Poor vets. I’m sure they have a rewarding job most of the time, curing peoples beloved pets. But i’m sure its moments like this that they wish they’d gotten into another field. Anyway, we all said our goodbyes to Rex, and he kinda looked up at us and said his too. The vet did his thing, and that was that. Not a dry Vandiver eye in the room, even Dad’s. Then the 4 remaining Vandivers got back into the van for the ride home.
Since then my parents have gotten another dog. Shannon, and she’s okay as far as German Shepherds go. She’s good with my kids, and she’s well trained. A good dog.
But Shannon, you ought to know something. Thats your backyard now. But remember who’s it was before you, ok? See that trail that goes around the back of the house, beaten into the grass? You’re doing a fine job keeping it up, but Rex started it. Remember that, ok? Good dog. Now, go catch yourself a gopher that Rex could never quite get.
Since then i’ve gotten a couple dogs too. Not by choice though. My wife is a sucker for rescuing dogs she sees running around, so thats how we came to own Lucy and Sparkles. Sparkles doesnt care too much for me. Psssh. Whatever. Right back at you SPARKLES. But Lucy is a good dog. Has an annoying bark that she uses too much, and lays around like a welcome mat more than she should (i mean heck, go patrol or something) but we’re cool. We’ve had her for about 7 years and shes starting to show some wear and tear. But still, shes the only one to greet me at the door when i come home from work. My son: (running around playing) “hey dad!” My daughter (on the couch watching tv) “hey daddy”. My wife (also on said couch) “hey babe”. Well, geez guys, dont get too excited. But here comes gimpy (unless theres a scrap that fell on the floor from the table, then she’s Bolt) Lucy, waddling her large butt up to me as if to say “Hey boss! missed you! where ya been!” My family can learn a thing or 2 from Lucy.
Anyway. Although Lucy is no Rex, i’m dreading that day when she can’t get up by herself. I’m dreading the drive to the vet. I’m dreading the drive back from the vet, and what i’m going to tell the kids. Maybe we’ll watch a movie: