(Photo: Trace Nietert/Flickr)
As I’m writing this, my 11-year-old son and five-year-old daughter are fighting over toys and running around the house. They stop and look at me, then at the cupboard where we keep the snacks. Those little faces know that I’ll give in and give up soon, meaning it’s cookie time.
They’re average kids, with the exception that that they’re of the furry kind with four paws.
More and more, I’m meeting like-minded marrieds in their 30s and 40s who have chosen to adopt rescue dogs — and love them just like family. You know how moms post endless baby pictures on Facebook? I love to see them and adore my friends’ children. But my own bragging is about PetSmart Basic Training graduation and how well behaved my dog is around the larger breeds.
There is a special camaraderie among this group of people that are owned by their dogs. Our conversations at the dog park are very much like the mothers at the playground, except we’re exchanging training tips, discussing the latest in organic snacks, or just sharing some cute shots of our progeny. (“Here’s Vern attempting to jump on the kitchen counter!” or “Awww…Scout looks like she really loves that tennis ball!”)
But there is one thing that separates many pet parents, which is how they acquired their dogs.
Just like playground discussions about where your child goes to school, or how your parenting skills differ from another’s, the dog run conversations go a little like this:
“Did you rescue or purchase your pup?” And that gets the dander up on all sides.
Sure, I believe rescue is the ideal way to go, but that doesn’t sit well with folks that purchased their dogs from a pet store. I try to mention (in a tactful way) that there are so many lonely, sweet, possibly misunderstood or abused dogs sitting in shelters that have no hope and need help.
Ok, we don’t dress our dogs up for the holidays, but of course they do wear their jackets in the cold weather, as do all of the other neighborhood pups. They don’t travel in designer purses to restaurants and clubs. But we take them hiking, walk around town with them and play outside with them. They’re family, not accessories.
There are certain challenges that most all pet parents face. Closing the bedroom door for some “alone time” with my husband inevitably means a paw scratching at the bedroom door in a few minutes. Having a work-related conference call means that it’s time to let the dogs play in the yard, lest my clients hear barking or worse, heavy breathing on my end, which might sound like an obscene phone call.
There may be people out there who think that pets are really a substitute for human companionship. But that’s just not true. One can have a very full life with a significant other, lots of friends — and four-legged family members.
Furry kids are like little, bouncing beacons of light that brighten absolutely everything. So even though my life is already good, they make it just that much better.