I've been thinking about dogs.
The family dog of my childhood is heading to doggie heaven tomorrow at the age of 17 and so I've been going through the memories I have of her and thinking about the role of pets in a family.
Miss Lily White (at the age of 14)
I was never that closely bonded to Lily; mostly I remember her shrill barking when a stray trash bag would blow down the street in the wind and how she would get cold feet when we took her for walks in the winter and would sit, refusing to go any further, so my sister Ness, and I would drag her 30 lb lazy butt home. But she was a good dog and did all those good things a dog is supposed to do too, like chase her tail in the middle of a busy crosswalk just as the light turns yellow, rip apart garbage cans while you're out and run terrified from the vacuum cleaner...ah, she made me smile so much as a kid, even when I was muttering under my breath in the freezing cold while she sauntered around the yard for a place to give back to the earth so to speak.
We don't have any pets; not really.
I mean, we have a fish that I begrudgingly brought home from a wedding centerpiece cause I didn't know what else it's fate might be, and now he swims around in a little tank and gets fed when I remember him and get's strange things dropped into his tank by the baby who is the only one who takes notice of him and I keep expecting the poor thing to die.... but I get the fish that will live forever...
My husband thinks he's not an animal person, ( really, he doesn't know animals enough to say so) and we have a couple family members who are severely allergic to cats and dogs, so it's always been a foregone conclusion that we would not be adding a beast to our family anytime soon. (I've always said I would consider getting a dog for my kids when they started begging me for one, cause I may as well soak up some hero worship if I'm going to get the pet anyways).
I sometimes dream about having a dog though, in that "All-American" way that people "dream of having a minivan and mortgage and sitting at soccer games... it just completes the involuntary mind picture of what an average family is supposed to be.
The subconscious dog of my dreams is a small Collie I will name Shep. Shep will be well trained, well groomed, and exactly like Lassie, right down to the life saving parts....ah they don't make dogs like they used to.
And taking a somewhat major leap... they don't make toys like they used to either....
Meet the dog I DID bring home for the Winkel kidlets from the "Sally Ann" (Salvation Army) a few weeks ago.
(Speaking of bad/good dogs) Ava named it Marley after we read John Grogan's charming Childrens Lit version of his excellent novel.( Actually she wanted to name it "Bad Dog Marley" which is what the dog's family calls it in the book, but I vetoed that)
From a toy standpoint, Marley is awesome... I got him for a steal of $5.00 and he is loved by both kids and has already received some serious playtime.
And from a dog standpoint he's awesome too, He never barks, loves to go for walks, does not beg at the table, pee in the house or chew on anything other than the little yellow shoe dangling from the staple in his mouth.... I say GOOD dog, Marley.
We even made him a house....
the side of the house reads (as dictated by Ava Grace):
I love to make crafts for you
Happy Birthday Marley
I wish, I wish,
We love Marley
We are his family
Good Dog Marley
So this post is about a lot of random things, it is about playtime with things loved, both unreal and real, and about why dogs are man's best friend, whether they are made of flesh and blood and fur and wet noses and kisses on your bare salty toes.... or whether they are just the idea of a faithful follower who wags their metal spring tale when you pick up their leash and take them for another trip up and down the hallway....
There's something instinctual about loving a dog, and taking an animal into your heart.
"I'll miss you Lily, have fun smelling all the other dogs in doggie Heaven and don't pick on the poodles, they belong there too."