Thursday, October 05, 2006

"You Don't Know What You've Got til it's Gone"

Pave paradise, put up a parking lot.
OK, that ages me, but Joni Mitchell was right anyway.
See I've been on one of my period manic binges; not manic in terms of buying things we can't afford, thinking I'm God's gift, or other forms of typical mania. Mine seem to come in obsessions that take hold, pushing other, actually important items out of the way and off the to-do list.
The latest avoidance method, hormone surge, chemical imbalance or passion was wanting a second dog.
It started when an Aunt told me she wasn't going to have any more dogs when her current dog died. He was the last one. And then my mother was talking about her travel plans, her lifestyle, and I realized she probably wasn't ever going to have another dog either. And it suddenly cut my dog owning years down considerably in my mind -- would I be like them when I was that age, deciding it was too much, I wanted to travel more, it wasn't fair to the dog?
Unthinkable, but there it was.
Doing the math, that left only about twenty-three dog owning years between now and when I might decide "no more". And some inner petulant child suddenly yearned for the dog experience she'd always hoped for; the dog who came everywhere with the family, the dog who slept on the kids' beds, who went on adventures, vacations, trips to the shore.
As my wife rightly points out, we have a dog.
And he's a good dog. And he loves us. I am his alpha dog.
He is a beautiful dog; a black Labrador mutant who looks half Great Dane and weighs in at 93 pounds, even though he's been on a strict diet. He sits on command, lies down, protects the kids, the house, and is as quiet and considerate as a 93 pound dog can be.
He just considers it his job to protect us from all other dogs, and anyone who might be a threat.
Luckily, he doesn't consider people a threat unless they are doing something obviously bad; the new neighbor who was in our yard behind the bunny cage made him raise his hackles, the postal worker who was just outside the door when I opened it, surprising me into a shriek, had his hand gently touched by teeth telling him to be a good postal worker and back away slowly.
He's hard to take anywhere. And never stopped pulling at the leash, despite training, haltees, pinch collars, every dog device there is.
However, I took him to the vet yesterday for a check-up, and during the exam the vet told me the life expectancy for Labs like him, American Field Labs, was 9 to 12 years, rather than the typical 12 to 14 of the shorter, stockier Labs. And my obsession with a doggie addition went bye-bye.
Our dog is just going on 7. He has a ten inch Nylabone somewhere in his gut, he recently ate a potato with sequins and craft pins in it, and he once ate a rubber backed bathmat. And now he has the beginnings of arthritis and he's precious, no longer a Dog of Steel, and we need to enjoy every minute of him, instead of longing for what he cannot be.
I suspect that in his older years he will become the Dog of my Dreams. He already sits nobly next to my chair, his head at hand height, awaiting my touch. He moves to wherever I am in the house and flops down nearby. Maybe he will give up his passion for squirrels, cats and rumbling with other male dogs (yes, he's fixed) and be my constant companion in his twilight years.
Obsession ended; appreciation begun.

On the easel: Blue the Weimaraner
On the laptop: A Word from the Backburner
On tape: Look to the Lady by Margery Allingham
On the nightstand: Baby Blues
On my mind: Getting over this nasty cold, my father-in-law who just had foot surgery, finding the time to work, taking a shower.

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