I think most children have an imaginary friend. My parents probably knew there was something wrong with me when I didn’t–I had an imaginary Scottish Terrier.
I’ve Always Been a Dog Person
If cats are the ninjas of the animal world, dogs are the samurai. Fierce, loyal, honorable protectors of home and family. Sometimes silent. Sometimes boisterous. Always faithful.
There is no greater companion in the world than a dog. They are sweet balls of warmth and love, and unlike their feline counterparts, don’t require mind control parasites to earn their spot on the foot of the bed.
It’s been almost three years since I lost the Abmonster, a horrible dark day in my life. I still miss her. Actually, I just returned home from one of her favorite pastimes, driving around aimlessly with no purpose other than to be in the car. It made me realize how much I miss having the Abkins to snuggle.
Yes, there is a new dog in my life. There are times when I feel bad for her because Gretchen has an enormous burden to live up to, but she’s a good dog. Her only foible is her absolute and utter fear of getting into a car.
You can imagine how this puts a damper on our canine/human relationship.
Don’t get me wrong. In many, many ways, Gretchen is very much like Abbey, and really, all dogs when given the chance. She is terrified of thunderstorms, sheds seven-hundred times her body weight in fur each day, and has an excitement induced doggy heart attack each time someone picks up her leash.
She is definitely doing her doggy best to fill a hole in my ruined, cantankerous heart.
And, I have to admit. I needed her.
Ostensibly, Gretchen is my mom’s dog.
Yes, I am a 31-year-old man living with my parents. But, that’s a different story.
This story is about my love of canines.
Not like that, you freakin’ perv.
I’ve always loved dogs. Something only fueled by not really having one most of my life. I was in third grade by the time my family got a dog, a black lab named Golmer with about 5% of the brainpower of his namesake. Even though Golmer was an awesome dog, he was my older brother’s dog. He got to do all the awesome adventures that teenagers do while I was still stuck at home watching the tail end of the Disney Afternoon, which at the time was Darkwing Duck and appropriately, TaleSpin.
We had a couple of other dogs over the years, too. A Brittany Spaniel who was the canine equivalent of an octogenarian when we adopted her and a mutt that can only be called a mutt. I loved all of those dogs, but I never really connected with them. I’m not sure if that was my self-centered teenager-ness or if they just simply weren’t my dog.
I think it takes a true dog person to understand what I mean by that.
A dog isn’t every truly a pet. As much as I absolutely abhor people who refer to their dog as a child, it is closer to the truth. A dog is a member of the family, but they’re not diminutive. They’re not children. That puts them lower on the order than they are.
For me, Abbey was more akin to a piece of myself. She was, of course, a completely real, not made-up entity, but she was more than just a pet or even a close friend. I hesitate to use the term “soulmate” because of that pervy thing you were thinking before, but it isn’t an inaccurate description.
If you aren’t a dog person, you’re probably having a hard time understanding what I mean. If you are a dog person, you’re just nodding along going, “Well, obviously.”
And, I have a hard time imagining that same bond with other animals. Most cats are murderous jerks. Birds are pretty stupid. Squirrels are creepy. You might be able to get that level of friendship from a pet rock, but they’re not very emotive.
There’s a reason dogs are so heavily represented in literature as man’s companion. Let’s face it, modern dogs have descended from thousands of years of bonding with humans. It borders on symbiosis now.
As I am typing this, Gretchen has retreated inside for the night and is passive-aggressively clicking her claws up and down the hardwood floor of the hall just beyond my chamber door, so I will have to go and open let her in.
As far as she is concerned this is her room and she lets me stay in it. I suppose giving up a few square feet of personal real estate is a worthwhile price to pay for the companion and loyalty she shows, and a nice way to honor the dogs that came before her.