Sunday, September 30, 2007

Do Animals choose us or we choose them?

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom act as one with our very souls.

Dachshunds are ideal dogs for small children, as they are already stretched and pulled to such a length that the child cannot do much harm one way or the other. ~Robert Benchleyy

Dogs laugh, but they laugh with their tails. ~Max Eastman, Enjoyment of Laughter

If you want to laugh about the most disgusting things in life and smile during your most upsetting times, try getting a dog. Better yet, get a puppy, and you can enjoy watching them as YOU grow (as a person that is, since dogs teach us everything.)

Miss Virginia has a new puppy named Luke. He is a Jack Russell terrier-beagle mix; very cute, very full of life and curiosity, finding his way through life by tasting everything at eyelevel. Miss Virginia already had a beautiful senior citizen dog named Freeway (think Heart-Heart TV series) and didn’t need another dog when Luke wandered in the yard. She found 3 different homes for him, but he kept coming back to her. It’s like Luke chose her, and that is it.

Can dogs really choose you? I think they pick us most definitely. I think they are wiser about us then we sometimes are about finding a mate.

Doc came to me on my 8th birthday. He was a pure breed miniature dachshund, black with tan markings. He was the size of my little hand at the time, and used to fit easily in my sweatshirt pocket or on the back of my neck. He weighed about 2 pounds at the time, and only grew to be 8 pounds. 2 days before my birthday, our tan doxie Charlie Brown was hit by a car. We all cried buckets for that little guy, and Dad went right out and bought us Doc. He stayed with us until I was almost 25. He died of a broken heart the week I moved into my own apartment.

His full name was Doc Hoctor, after the race car driver we liked out at Holland Speedway racetrack. We used to go in our jammies on Saturday nights to watch him race. Doc used to go to work everyday with my Dad, who picked him up and carried him in his arm, swinging his black metal lunch pail on his one hand underneath Doc, while carrying his briefcase in the other hand. Out they would go to Dad’s pickup truck to go work in the city. My father had his own small business (Buffalo Sweeping Compound Company) where he manufactured a sweeping compound used in heavy industrial sites.

When he went out on deliveries in the pickup or the big truck, Doc rode along. Dad said he used to protect the truck so no one could steal it while he went into the plants to get paid for his product. At lunchtime, Doc would share lunch with my father, eating half a sandwich and 3 Oreo cookies. Doc would pull them apart and lick out the frosting first. He loved cookies.

One night, about 18 months after Doc found us, Mom & I came home from my dance class ( 7 years with Jack Greenan for tap and jazz, thank you very much) to find a gate up in the kitchen. We used to put this up when Doc was sick, but I saw him laying in the living room Then I heard the “Oh, Rick, No” from my Mom and saw Dad’s laughter. There in the kitchen was a dog that looked a lot like Doc, but he was kinda fat and broad-chested. Dad told us his was Doc’s half-brother and was the runt of the litter. No one wanted him and he was 4 months old. And incredibly stupid.

While Doc came to us with poise and grace, the new dog seemed to have no intelligence whatsoever. When you held him in your lap, he would jump off and land right on his chest. He didn’t know how to put his feet out to hold himself up. And when he drank water, he would get his ears all wet, not knowing how to hold them up. And he kept walking right through his pee! “What should we call him,?” Dad asked. Maxwell Smart we decided, for the bumbling idiot secret agent on the TV show at them time, “Get Smart.”

Max soon learned from boss dog Doc. Doc ate and drank first, then Max. When we sat in great-grandpa’s horse hair chair, Doc would get in, and lay along side us. Max would go in next, getting behind Doc, and sitting up like a human so he fit in the chair with us. When they went to work with Dad, Doc got to eat, and get picked up, Max chowed down a little, ran to Dad, and got picked up second. My Mom folded up an old blanket for the dogs, and sewed the edges together for their own comforter. Doc always got in the bed first, then Max, both of them scooching under the covers together. Wherever they slept or lay, they did it together, always Doc first, then Max. They were never apart.

We had the boys for almost 18 years. In the later years, they started to lose all their teeth and their tongues hung out of their mouths. They had bad cataracts and couldn’t see well. But they stayed in the downstairs in the living room or in their bed, still giving us love and comfort. They weren’t allowed upstairs in my bedroom, parents’ rules. But whenever my parents traveled and were out of town, they would sneak up and sleep in my bed. It was the funniest thing. I didn’t bring them up, I would tuck them in as always, but 30 minutes later up they would come for a cuddle.

After college, I moved to Florida for a year. And for the whole year, Doc and Max laid everyday at the foot of the stairs, waiting for me to come down from my room. They missed me that much. I eventually moved back for another year, and then moved out permanently when I earned a teaching fellowship for my Masters’ degree. Max died a few months before that, but Doc still hung on, until the day my brother Joe came with the delivery truck and picked up my stuff. I kissed Doc goodbye, and left him in his bed for my parents, who would be home from a trip later that day. And Doc had a stroke the next day. I still think he died of a broken heart.

And part of me died too. My childhood was over, it was time to be on my own. And Doc knew, just as he found me on my 8th birthday, that it was time to let me go. And so he did.

1 comment:

Shari Schmidt said...

I even see the influence of other kids at the preschool level, where our twin girls are. During clean-up one day, a little boy threw a block at his mother. I thought, "well, at least it will be good for the girls to see that his Mom won't let him throw things either." Instead the Mom told her son that if he helped clean-up, she'd take him for ice cream. I turned around to our girls and said, "If you ever throw anything in this school you will NEVER come back." I figure the best we can do is contually reinforce what is acceptable in our house. If we do it enough, I hope other kids' bad behavior won't have much of an influence. At least that's my theory now. We'll see how it changes as the girls get older.