by Joy Dombrow
A furry, four-footed friend is the first to greet me each morning.
With tail wagging like fast moving windshield wipers, our five year old pup is as eager to see me as the day that we first met. He jumps up on the sofa next to me desperately trying to kiss my face in warm affection. Once he receives his fill of ear rubs and chin scratches, he settles in close, pressing into my side just to be with me.
I’ll have to admit that I am not really a dog person. I am not even much of an animal person. The shedding, the extra responsibility, the stink, the inconvenience, the barking, and the grooming are things that I could do without. It is my shoulders that bear them. And, as a side note, I am tired of apologizing for his boisterous personality when people come to visit.
However, getting our Christmas puppy those years ago was one of the best decisions we ever made for our family. Just as he never tires of greeting us with enthusiasm that pulsates through every part of his body (I just went down the street to get the mail for crying out loud!), my children never tire of greeting him with the same enthusiasm, showering him with kisses and affection as if we had just brought him home for the first time.
I thought they would tire of him, but they haven’t.
Tensions dissolve whenever he is near, reducing stress in the life of a boy on the cusp of growing into a man. Our dog sleeps each night with our son, as they snuggle close to one another in an unspoken bond of love. With uncanny understanding, he also licks the tears from our daughter’s face whenever feelings spill out. Sometimes he is the only one that can bring her comfort. She even calls for him in her sorrow. Stress dissolves when my husband comes home from work to find an eager friend awaiting him, desirous of frivolous play. Simply put, having a dog helps us cope in positive ways, sparing us from the harmful ones.
He has also taught my children much about the responsibility of love. In a suburban home, nestled on a small plot of land, there are very few chores that are appropriate to assign to them. Sometimes I make things up just to teach them how to work. Dog responsibilities make work meaningful and having someone smaller than they to care for brings out nurturing qualities that would otherwise not be developed. There is intrinsic reward and feedback for this kind of work, and one that requires a long term commitment. My children are learning and growing, thanks to our dog.
Having a dog has added interest to our life, peppering our story with many adventures. Birthday birds, a dead chicken, ruined shoes, sock retrieval, long walks, puppy play times, snuggling, and doggie dress up are wonderful memories etched into the storyline of our family.
No, I am not really a dog person, but it is a sacrifice of love that I am thankful I made. For my family, and yes, even for me. As much as I hate to admit it, we are better off for having a family pet. *Sigh*.
All is grace.