Dog Mirrors

I’ve always wanted a mutt, solely because of the common endorsement that ‘My mutt was the best dog I ever had.’  Of course there are more philanthropic reasons for choosing a rescue dog, but ultimately our decision was made by the fact that our family of five could not agree on a breed.

Husband wanted to enjoy longer than two months of dog-freedom after the passing of Rex.  But the rest of us were impatient, and very convincing with our reasons for jumping back into dog ownership.  Husband accused us of engaging in ‘puppy porn’ which is a fairly accurate description of our addiction to browsing PetFinder.com.

Principessa and I would fall in love anew every day and casually leave photos of glossy-eyed puppies on the family computer for husband to stumble over.  Gradually we wore him down with four-legged cuteness and took his reduction in resistance as a green light to move forward with adoption.  When this irresistible ball of fur jumped out of its crate, husband was sold.

oakley 10.13

It was I who had second thoughts.  We had a two week return policy in case things didn’t work out.  As if.

The following weeks included two trips to the vet, three prescriptions, hypo-allergenic food, and a subscription to pet insurance for a dog who was, well, sick as a dog.  Instead of returning our damaged goods, we became even more attached and protective and committed to dog rehabilitation.  We now have a healthy, energetic, puppy and a few less shoes, rugs, and electrical cords – all lost to the chewing nuisance.

Now, instead of worrying about ill health, we focus on ill behavior.  This, thanks to my passion for discipline.  Husband teases that by the time I’m done with dog training, Oakley will have more diplomas than the rest of the family combined.  Probably true.

On a regular basis, I haul the kids to puppy class and insist on their participation in training for good manners at home.  Principessa approached me with sincere concern that Oakley might be deaf.  “Why?” I asked.  “Because he doesn’t listen to me when I tell him to sit.” she replied.  Oh, my dear daughter.  Oakley is not deaf.  He’s a teenager.

Principessa has also complained that Oakley won’t cuddle with her.  “He’s so ungrateful.  I feed him and play with him and still, he ignores me.”  She could be me, reflecting on her.  The parallels are uncanny.

At a recent dog-training class, Peach and I discussed the common observation that dogs resemble their owners.  We giggled about the shaggy dog with the shaggy-haired woman and the aggressive dog with the angry-faced handler.  Turning the mirror on ourselves, we observed that   10-year old Peach, distracted by so many puppies in one room, had difficulty controlling Oakley’s similarly curious demeanor.

I’d like to say that Oakley is a perfect specimen at my command, thereby reflecting my own composed nature.  But in truth, when I find myself worrying that he is hyper and barky and unfocused, I have to admit that I, too, am off the rails.

Friend asked why, with a typically chaotic family life, I would want to add a dog to the mix?  Despite the ample research on the benefits of pet ownership, it resembles a crazy decision.  True, this.  But at the end of the day, five out of five Dunhams agree that dogs make us better humans.  We are more compassionate, less self-centered beings when caring for a canine.  And more importantly, when our worlds are ablaze with problems we can’t solve, there is always this…

sleeping dog 2

waiting for us at the end of the day.

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