How we love our dogs. This isn't a new phenomena that came along with the internet and movies, endless videos on youtube or social media sites. We've loved our dogs for millennia before anyone had to confirm it for us.
They sleep with us as babies and children, keeping us safe and warm. And as adults they love us for exactly who we are. They could care less whether we have a zit on the end of our nose or we're overweight, lonely or slow with age. They wait for us by the door and wiggle all over when we come home, like we're the best thing ever to happen in their day.
April 2016 - Dogs are a kind of wolf. They were the first animals that people fed on purpose, earlier than sheep or cows or chickens. People have been taking care of dogs in Central Asia since about 13,000 BC, in the Stone Age, before the beginning of farming(and possibly much earlier; maybe as long as 100,000 years ago, before people left Africa). Most likely, dogs themselves began this relationship by hanging around people's campsites (there weren't any villages yet), trying to snatch some of their garbage to eat. At first, people must have tried to scare the dogs away. But ... campsites with dogs were cleaner and healthier than campsites without dogs. Fewer people got dysentery and died.
The people who lived in these cleaner campsites grew up stronger than people who shooed away dogs, and there were more of them. Eventually, the dog-lovers pretty much took over... And dogs evolved to be able to digest more and more people-garbage, especially grains.
Somewhere around this time, people... began to see that the dogs could do other things too. Dogs would bark and let you know if any big animals or human enemies were coming. Dogs could let you know if the baby was getting into trouble. So people began to encourage the dogs to hang around. At some point, people also began to teach dogs to obey them. They useD the dogs to help them hunt other animals, and to pull sleds. Dogs were the earliest domestication of any animal, and may have given people the idea of domesticating sheep and goats... Nobody's sure whether this domestication of dogs happened only once, in one place, or many times, all over Europe and Asia, but all known dogs today are descended from those Central Asian dogs of about 13,000 BC. Even Native American dogs came to the Americas from Asia. Today's European dogs probably came to Europe with the Indo-Europeans from Central Asia, replacing earlier European dogs, just as Central Asian cats replaced earlier cats in China. (from an article by K.E.Carr)
I'm the first to admit that my dogs are one of the cores of my life. They love me unconditionally. I'm a member of the pack, alpha female. And I take that role seriously.
I provide their food (make it for them, in fact) and clean water (love my Berkey Water Filter. Although with their amazing gut I'm not sure I need to give filtered water to them. I've watched them drink from the ponds, a puddle on the drive and the chicken trough. Their favorite place to drink is out of the horse's water trough.), and a safe haven for them to run and hunt in. I set the rules and they accept me as a benevolent dictator.
Yup. My 'pack' hunts. Actually I think they may steal some of their munchables from the cats but neither of them will own up to it. Apple (my Golden in the picture above) did go through a short period where she hunted rabbits and brought them home for the kittens. It was an unexpected development that ended fairly quickly, much to my relief. Finding rabbits carefully piled up next to the front door was accepted and praised but hard to deal with since it involved the inevitable clean up. Good skill to have though. You never know when that kind of ability might come in handy, especially if there's a Zombie Apocalypse.
Our dogs are heroes, especially in the eyes of children. Even the wee tiny dogs are fierce wolves, at least in their mind's eye and ancestry. Today they're used as companions, helping people who are challenged by injuries to their hearts, minds, body or emotional state. There are innumerable videos of soldiers coming home to their dogs, babies sleeping with their best four legged friend on guard, and especially of people rescuing dogs from floods, fires or deplorable conditions they're living in. There are activists all over the world who help dogs to find their best partner in life.
The love between humans and dogs is mutual, part of the Yin and Yang of the world. They forgive us our human fallibility, offering one more time to roll over for a tummy rub and sleeping with their heads in our laps even after we've had a melt down over that pair of best shoes with the toes chewed out. ( Shoes are just so tasty! )
One of my dogs, Gypsy, saved my life twice. The first time was when some hopped up meth heads came in to my store at the end of the day, after I'd sent the help home and was just walking to the front to lock the doors. They came in, three of them, spreading out and flanking me. It was obvious they'd robbed before and knew what they were doing.
Gypsy, who probably sold as much product as I did by greeting people at the door and taking them to the newest exhibits with great enthusiasm (her droopy, guilty eye look sold more than one painting!), leaped right over the counter and hit them like a whirling dervish. She bit one of them in the arm, leaving a wound the police were able to identify him by later when he went to the emergency room to get stitches. And chased another out of the front door before turning on the last one and cornering him with a crazed look on her face and bloody froth (from the bite on the first guy) on her mouth. He laid down his knife and peed his pants he was so frightened. She got a special award from the police for her bravery (a lovely, big bone and a star shaped badge she wore on her collar).
The second time was when we had an intruder in our home. I came in after shopping and there she was in the dining room with the 'burgler' cornered in the dining room, shaking and sweating. " Geez lady. Call your dog off! " Obviously I didn't 'call my dog off'. Instead I called 911 and stood there, praising her, until the police arrived. She had a reputation with the local police department by then. Gypsy loved her second bone as much as the first.
Now we live with Miniver and Apple, two characters in their own rights. And both of them are mine because they chose me by sitting on my foot. All of my dogs do that, every single one. And I can remember all of them back to the beginning of my memories as a child. They were all my beloveds and I miss them too. They each taught me something important : Have confidence in yourself. Hold your head up and wag your tail and people will love you for being kind. Never miss an opportunity to chase a tennis ball. Frisbees rock! Tummy and shoulder rubs always make you feel better. Love is best shown with an enthusiastic kiss. Splash in every mud puddle you find. Live and love like every day is the only day. The list goes on and on. Respect your horse and they will respect you too. Barking at moths flying around the lamp at night is lots more fun than watching television. You never know what you'll find in a trash can so tip one over if you have a chance to. Cats drool, dogs rule (although the cats usually reverse that statement. It's an ongoing debate around here.)
But you're probably wondering where I'm going with this story today. No special place. My dogs are happy to be where I am, although rides in the car with their heads hanging out are way cool, especially when passing other cars with dogs who are also hanging out windows, drool flying by. I just wanted to acknowledge the canines who've brought so much joy in to our lives.
Here's to the laughter they bring in to us, the gentle tussles over a favorite toy. Here's to the nights they've sat up with me while I worry about whatever the latest catastrophy was and the days they've been there with me when I was lonely for my sons, now grown and launched in to exciting lives of their own. Here's to the treasures they've shared, always giving me the best bits, and the laughter that comes with some thing they've dragged in with them. There was the time Joe 'ate' the sofa stuffed with feathers while I was gone. I came back to this amazing cloud of feathers and tatters of feather pillows with an excited puppy running in great loopy circles with excitement. When I opened the door he burst out with one last pillow, shaking it for all it was worth, and 'The Great Feather Storm' following him, making the little girl next door laugh until she fell down. (She'd lost her Mom just two weeks before to Cancer. Her Dad told me later it was her first real laugh since her Mom had died.).
Here's to comfort they've brought me and the gift of how to accept a life well lived and the time to leave with grace and bravery. And here's to the unadulterated love they've taught me to practice. Be kind. Share without expecting anything back, well maybe a scratch behind the ears would be nice but sharing was just for sharing and the pleasure it brings, so an ear scratch can wait. And here's to the fine art of laughter when I needed it the most and remembering that it's just stuff so don't sweat it because it's not worth your time when there's other things to chew up and bury (like the time I was working with Lucky in the arena and came around the corner to find a half buried stuffed bear sticking up out of the sand. That taught me to laugh through a buck!).
And here's to sitting in the grass under shade of the oak tree in the front yard, reading a best book ever with a four legged friend curled up next to me, making me feel like a million bucks.
And here's to cat litter on the end of their noses, sticky half chewed bones 'buried' under the good pillows just set out for guests because they don't smell like dogs and chewed up bones, and that time Newman and Gypsy ran threw the house trailing toilet paper they'd unwound behind them, right through a reception dinner (and who, I have always wondered, opened the door to let them out of the bedroom?!).
And here's to the endless stories they've given me to tell at the Thanksgiving table. This story is for Penny, Shotsi, Hans, Fritz, Ernst, Leipkin and Maepkin, Alexander, Kippy, Rosy, Lightfoot, Gypsy, Newman, Joe, Mona, Tiberius, Miniver, and Apple. I hope I have a chance to add more names to that list before my time to leave comes. I'm not finished learning from them or telling the stories either. I love you guys!
I am, ever yours, Nancy, smiling and rummaging around, trying to find a good bone for them to chew (and laughing because there are two kittens asleep on top of the ever patient Miniver, as I write this)