Monday, October 12, 2009

It's just a dog...

How does one adequately express how a pet can make you feel or how you feel after losing a beloved pet - more specifically, a dog? How do you make those that aren't pet owners understand it isn't "just a dog"?

Did you ever have a really good day when you were a kid? Like, rolling all the way down a hill and wind up at the bottom dizzy and laughing and do it over and over again, cause it was so much fun the first time? Did you ever get exactly what you wanted on Christmas morning and still remember that feeling of complete exhilaration - cause now you KNEW Santa was real?! How about the feeling of familiar, comfort you felt when you met up with your best friend on the bus cause you knew they saved you a seat?

Well, those are the kind of feelings a dog can bring you - warmth, happiness, security, comfort - and a void filled, that you never even knew you had.

Sure dogs can get on your last nerves - just the same as friends, family and co-workers and they're not usually as cute as a puppy! Of course puppies can pee and poo in the house for a maddening amount of time till they finally get the hang of going outside. They can chew everything in site till you have only one "pair" of shoes and a half a chair left. They can bark incessantly till they either - unnerve neighbors so that the police are at your door so often you have coffee and donuts waiting for them - or they manage to damage your eardrums so you consider and threaten them with a bark collar. They can making going for a daily walk, a new iron man marathon event! With pulling, sniffing, running, chasing, barking and of course - tangling the leash around your legs so that you head for a splat every other jaunt - a ritualistic hell. They can shed so much hair that you find it on every piece of clothing you own and start buying a wardrobe to match your dogs coat color just so you don't have to invest in lint roller stock. You call their name over and over, whistle, scream and threaten words they have no recognition of - while they stand there with their tail wagging zealously, rejoicing at the dead skunk they found just for you! These negative possibilities are only one side of the coin though and after all is said and done, wind up being funny stories to tell - much like the popular book and movie "Marley & Me" so eloquently pointed out.

The good news is, the positive side of the doggie coin is abundant...
Dogs are THE world's best listeners. The don't interrupt or argue with you, they just sit with you and listen to you pour out your soul, or cry and then they lick your tears away - okay maybe it's the salt in our tears they like but the point is - they don't judge you. No matter how many times you yell, hit, cuss, ignore or neglect them, they forgive you. Every single time you walk through the door, they will greet you with the biggest, brightest eyes and as much enthusiasm as you felt with your first kiss and not an inkling of resentment or anger, even when you're hours late! They give unconditional love throughout every single day, something most humans seem to be incapable of! They run, ride, swim, beg and yes, even lick - with such exuberance, that it's like watching the innocence of a child experiencing life's "firsts" each time. In exchange for so much devotion they look to you for only three things - food, shelter and water and even those they don't complain about.
So when this patient, faithful friend of many years begins to show patches of white around their muzzle and their coat has become dulled and sheds even more often, it's still just a dog - right? When their gate slows or falters often and makes going for a walk difficult to watch and those bright eyes have grown dim and tired - it's still just a dog - right? When years of devotion are found in the eyes still looking to you for love - beg the painful decision of ending the suffering along with your companionship, how do you imagine that it's "just a dog"? Do you cry for your loss and stay with your devoted friend till the end, or walk away in their final hour and decide "it's just a dog"?!

As time passes so will the pain but this one time it seemed that a simple dedication in honor of our devoted dog, Cagney, a
Labrador Retriever of near 13 years, would somehow be okay to write about - even though, she was "just a dog". The night Cagney had to be put down, I finished this piece of art that I had been working on for quite awhile. It's meant for kids of course and puppies and kids seem to naturally go together. Since Cagney liked chasing bees and walked around with a puffy face after eating them on more then one occasion cause was allergic to them - this print is called "Waggin Tails and offers the sentiment "bee happy" written in the air by the little honey bee.

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