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Doggone it, they're part of the family

T

his week has been a particularly hard one to be a pet or pet owner in our house.

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Still trying to adjust to the crazy days that are our family's schedule; work, school, practice, training sessions and other commitments we have, sometimes we forget to take our dog out on a regular basis and sometimes she rewards us with a remembrance on the hallway floor in the morning — this week being one of those "sometimes."

She spent the other day helping to organize my childhood home, working with members of my family and their dogs to bring some sort of semblance to the process. She was in charge of chasing the others until they all passed out on the floor, tongues draping down their snouts. While she was handling her puppy sitting responsibilities, she also must have gotten in to something that she decided to transport home in her belly and deposit on our family room carpet.

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Dogs can be such a joy at times.

We had a dog that lived with us in Brazil and traveled back to the U.S. who we named Lixa, a beautiful sounding name as it rolls off your tongue. It was our attempt at the feminine version of the Portuguese word "lixo," translated as the English word for "garbage." She earned her name by spending every waking moment trying to figure out how to get to the trash, and once she got her break used it to her full advantage spreading her find throughout the pantry and selecting her daily favorites from the bunch.

My first dog that I actually purchased with my own money and picked him out was a German short-haired pointer named Dan. Named after my favorite football player of the era, Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, Revil Raisin's Dolphin Dan was a very loyal and friendly companion.

He loved to be around people and other dogs but couldn't stand it when those same people weren't around. He delivered his "message" a little more violently than making a deposit on the carpet. He would let us know his displeasure with our absence by chewing wood.

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Sometimes it was the leg of our favorite chair; other times it might be the entire molding from around the basement door. He wasn't particular, just wanted to make sure we knew that he wasn't happy.

The dog that had the biggest impact on my life, actually on my whole family's lives, was our Weimaraner, Igor.

There are so many stories to tell about the life of Igor that would take up way more room than I am allotted in this column; and his story belongs to my brother, Charlie, his owner and partner in crime. But I couldn't write a column on dogs without sharing what was the life of Igor.

We often joke that Igor had more class time at Western Maryland College than Charlie and I combined — which probably wasn't far from the truth — but it became evident when during one of the few classes I attended, Igor followed a fellow classmate into the room sharing scraps of the powdered doughnut she brought with her from the Englar Hall cafeteria. I embarrassingly escorted Igor out where I'm sure he found another human to share her breakfast and racked up some more class time.

With all of the "benefits" of dog ownership listed above and I'm sure any dog owners reading this can add many of their own stories, you may wonder why people are crazy enough to have dogs.

My wife was one of those people who never understood the attraction and held fast for 21 years of marriage before caving to the boys' pressure (including me) and allowing us to bring our standard poodle, Molly, into our lives. I dare you to try and take Molly away from her now.

As I kneel down to clean the stain out of our family room carpet, I could be mad. I could yell and scream and rub her nose into the mess she made. But we got lucky and got an exceptional dog with no destructive tendencies who loves our family unconditionally, despite sometimes not getting the attention she deserves. She spends her day waiting for us to come home and figuring out the best ways to show us how much she loves us when we walk in the door.

The only thing I can offer in return is continuous ear scratching and head patting.

And that's only until my hands get tired.

I agree with British historian and writer Toby Green when he wrote about his dog, "My goal in life is to become as wonderful as my dog thinks I am."

How do you measure up?

410-857-8552

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