Because most of my posts on the Travelog & Dog Blog are about how my indoor dogs drive me crazy, most of the comments my cousin Paul posts on my Blog are about the advantages of outdoor dogs. That has lead me to realize that if a non-dog person who didn't know me happened across such posts as "The Contest," "Whirling Dirvish," "Words of Wisdom by Yogi Berra," "The Chicken, The Cow and The Donuts," "A Dog's Work is Never Done," or even "The Day My Dog Wore Underpants," the reader might think, like Paul, "Jeesh! If you've gotta have a dog, get one you can keep outdoors." But for those of us who don't keep dogs for hunting or guarding, them words is fightin' words!
I started to wonder why, though. If not for hunting or protection, why have a dog at all? I've touched on reasons in some of my posts, "Grace," for example, but have never addressed the question head on.
Owning dogs is kind of like having children who never grow up and are always dependent on you. When they finally start to act more like adults than rambuncious 6-year-old children, you're stuck dealing with their aging issues, like expensive medical treatment and medications, or bad breath and teeth cleening. Dog ownership always involve things that make a non-dog person shake his head and wonder, "What's the point?"
So, to the point.
Hmmmmmm.... where to start. Well, for one thing, I love it when I come home to their joy upon seeing me. Okay, maybe it is only that they want food and they see me as the source of that food, but I have to smile when they streak to the car as I drive up. As I open my car door, they crowd around to greet me after a long hard day at the office, and the issues of the day begin to fall away. It is true that an outdoor dog would probably do the same, but I wouldn't want their muddy paws all over me as I exit my vehicle.
Here's another thing. After I've fed the dogs, whether it be in the morning or evening, if I sit down and put my feet up as I am wont to do, they want nothing more than to be next to me. I love that. One of my favorite parts of the day, in addition to spooning with my husband as we fall asleep, is my early morning reading time when the dogs snooze snuggled up against me. We can sit that way for hours.
One might argue that, like their after-work greeting, this is selfish behavior on their part, because they just want warmth. I don't think so. I mean, that might be partly true. But I believe that they want to be as close to me as they can because they like being around me. You see, as I sit at the computer, Figaro has found a new place to rest, on the floor right beside my chair. Since he cannot be on me, he chooses to be near me.
Let's see, what else? ... Okay. I am a morning person, John is not. John is also a napper, while I cannot for the life of me take a nap even when I want to. So John is often asleep when I'm up and about. With my indoor dogs, I always have someone around to listen when I feel like talking. I can say whatever I want, whenever I want to, and they don't talk back, or argue, or correct me, or yawn in disinterest, or change the subject, or interrupt, or shift their eyes back to the television, or...well, you get the idea. In fact, they exhibit a keen interest in all my jabbering.
And then there's this: Although I write about their rambunctiousness, oftentimes we simply experience quiet companionship. I sometimes try to imagine what life would be like without them, and I realize it is their companionship that is the number one reason I have indoor dogs.
I think that truly brings me to the point. (Bear with me on this.) I don't listen to the radio much, but I was listening to K-LOVE the other day as I was driving and a young man said, "Reading the Bible is not about finishing it. It's about a having a relationship with Jesus. And if you want to have a relationship, you do what you do in a relationship." He didn't expound, and maybe that wasn't the most artful way of expressing it, but it made sense to me. I thought about what you do in a relationship: you spend time together, you laugh at each other's jokes, you show off for one another, you do things together, you play together, you have meals together, you talk, you take walks together, you go places together, you seek each other out when you've been apart for awhile, you sit in each other's presence, you enjoy companionable silence. That's what you do with your spouse, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your same-gender friends. That's what you do with Jesus, in case you didn't know. And that is what you do with dogs, if you choose to have one. This is especially true with indoor dogs, because of their more constant proximity to you.
A non-dog person might argue, "You can have all that with people. Why bother with all the trouble and expense of dog ownership?" My response: the more diverse your relationships are, the fuller, richer and more satisfying your life is. Of course, if you don't have a dog (or Jesus, I might add) in your life, you aren't aware of what you're missing. You go on forever without experiencing the joy that relationship would bring and you feel, rightfully so, that life is pretty darned good, but, regrettably, you'll never know that it could be even better. And who wouldn't want life to be even better?
(Our niece, Kayli, Feb. 2004, experiencing the joys of our indoor dogs, Maddie, Phoenix and Figaro)