OpEd: The New Dog in My Life

“The difference between a man and a dog is that a dog does not bite the hand that feeds him.” -Mark Twain

Every so often you have to stop writing about saving the world and talk about things that really matter. The world will take care of itself.

Last December, I found out that my oldest dog, a 12-year-old mix aptly named Hurricane, rescued as he was a decade ago from Katrina in Louisiana, had inoperable cancer. He was given about 60 days.

Here’s the thing about life and death though. We never really know. The future can be 20 years or 20 minutes. We are all day-to-day. Five months later, with the cherry flavored chemo working I guess, Hurricane is still bouncing around, grayer, thinner, but sun bathing by the pool like he was still a puppy.

Meanwhile, I had been thinking how nice it would be to have a younger, second lab, to play with my older one, himself acquired a couple of years ago from our local neighbor, Animal Pet Rescue. However, I had heard of silver labs, and looked into a breeder upstate. She had a new litter that would be available in May, and by then, Hurricane would be gone.

I convinced myself a new puppy would not be a burden, but provide a playful buddy for the 3 year old black lab, Shadow. He is not happy, though. He is insanely jealous, and thinks an intruder has stolen his bed.

Will someone that specializes in the dog socialization process please call me or send a Facebook message? This is not what I intended at all. These guys were supposed to be playful pals!

Still, any new puppy puts you on 24 hour alert. You can buy 2,500 pet toys and he is still going to go eat your new living room pillow, because the only real obligation of a puppy is to cause havoc in your life. Duke is doing fine with that already. In fact, I think he was bred to eat shoelaces.

Meanwhile, none of the other three dogs wants anything to do with the new Duke. He is jumping, playing, running, and the rest of the dogs are looking at him and saying, “What are you doing here? We didn’t ask for you, we don’t want you and it’s 1900 degrees outside. We sleep all day. Just leave us alone.”

There is another minor problem. I live in Fort Lauderdale. So technically, you are only allowed three dogs. After three, your home officially has to be licensed as a kennel. Besides, even if you have a crate or a kennel or a cage, dogs think they have a constitutional right to live outside them. They are only there for you to clean up after the fact.

Anyway, what was I thinking? I forgot puppies like to chew on remotes, urinate in your living room, and think the water dish is their swimming pool. They demand special diets, immunization shots, and around the clock baby sitters. Their baby teeth are razor like sharp and their cute little paws cut like steak knives through your arms.

When you want to sleep, they want to play. When you are ready to leave the house, they guilt you into thinking you are abandoning them in a petrified forest. Put them in a cage and the last thing you hear as you leave the house, knowing they are safe, is the howls of a caged animal making you out to be a sadistic beast.

On the other hand, isn’t the innocence of a puppy amazingly rewarding? Like a newborn child, the world is truly their oyster. It awaits exploration. Watch the puppy stare down a lizard, pull on the tale of the German shepherd a hundred pounds bigger than him, or eat through the heel of your spanking new sneakers. He is oblivious to it all. He is just having fun. You are the one going bananas.

What have I done? I mean, this little dude could wind up living longer than me; which is something you don’t always think about it when you get a dog. But there is something you do think about- unconditional love, playful romps in the park, somebody who shares your bed and won’t ever steal your heart. A charcoal/silver lab is seeking a companion. I am just thinking can I make a million bucks if I start a Doggie Grindr app?

 


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