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on having a dog

September 4, 2011

Chelsea, after I’ve just left the house (photo by Terri)

I’ve had dogs before. I grew up with dogs. When I was born, we had my mom’s all-time favorite dog, Scruffy, one of the best dogs ever (a scrappy, shaggy little Pekinese/poodle mix who actually looked more like a Lhasa Apso). We kept one of her puppies, Princess (who was ‘my’ dog although since she was born when I was 5 and was too little to really take care of her, she was really just our family’s second dog). And then when I was in high school, we adopted Katie, a springer spaniel (another Best Dog Ever), who quickly became my brother and dad’s dog, since they all went bird hunting together. When I lived with a boyfriend in college, he had two dogs, a Pekingese and a very adorable basset hound. But I’ve never really had a dog that was truly my dog (or, in the current case, our dog).

So Chelsea is pretty much the perfect not-really-but-sorta-kinda first dog. I call her the “out of the box” dog — she’s been a terrific dog from Day One. She has (knock on wood) not had any house accidents. She happily participates with our extremely basic and fumbling training (we are learning too), and responds very well to mild corrections (the only kind of correction we are capable of… we are not what you would call Strong Leaders). She sleeps pretty much all night and if she needs to go out, she wakes me up with sweet snuffling and tail-wagging, not barking. She follows us around the house and only jumps on the bed every once in awhile, but prefers to sleep on the floor.

Everyone in the neighborhood loves her. Kids literally come running out of houses to pet her. I don’t think she LOVES small children but she puts up with them patiently and always acts like a lady around them (standing very still, not even licking them, even when they have candy or a popsicle in hand, which is AMAZING because this dog loves food). She was very sick a few years ago with acute liver failure, so she is not overly energetic — a 20-minute to half-hour walk a day is perfect for her (and me) with the occasional jog/hill-walking. She has very good manners around the cats now, and even (mostly) leaves us alone when we have dinner.

The only thing, is that she cannot stay away from the dropped crabapples in the back yard. They give her terrible gas and upset stomach. We try to keep them raked up but it’s impossible to keep up with it completely. So we will try to limit her time in the backyard during crabapple-season. She also will pick up anything rotten or stinky along our walks, and try to eat it. So I have to keep a close eye out for potential disgusting snacks along the way. “Leave It” is a command we practice daily.

Because I am the one who is able to take her out for walks and such, she is very attached to me. She obviously loves Terri too, but I’m the “fun mama” so she is slightly more attuned to me. Which is ironic, because Terri is the one who really wanted a Golden, who really wanted a dog. I did too, but Terri *really* wanted one. So this has been an adjustment — I was prepared to play second fiddle, but it appears not to be so. If I think about it from a dog’s perspective, it makes sense. I take her for walks and out in the car, so of course she wants to go where I go. Maybe this will mellow over time.

In any case, she’s wonderful. We are taking the very best care of her that we can because we are very aware that she is seven, and we don’t know how lucky we will be in terms of time with her. So we will love her every single day and just pray that we have luck and she is with us for a long time. We might adopt a second dog next year — maybe — because clearly we lose our minds when we lose a pet, and I think that it would be best for us to already have a beloved dog when that very very sad time comes (in the very very far future, of course).

But for now, I am thrilled to have just our Chelsea. She is so sweet, so gentle, and the perfect dog for us. Right now she is sleeping on the cool brick hearth, her head in the fireplace (which is completely clean, no worries). Silly dog.


8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 4, 2011 4:09 pm

    Awww: this post made my heart happy. 😀 Also, love the phrase ‘out of the box’ dog! Thistle’s like that too.

  2. September 5, 2011 9:38 pm

    our liz lemon is a very much “out of the box” dog as well. only in our relationship jay is more the “fun” dad and im the disciplinarian (when needed, which is rare) and the one who takes care of her basic needs. i feed her and walk her, but when we walk, its a “business trip”-we are out to do business and when business is over, we go inside. whereas jay is the one who plays ball and takes her for rides in the car.

    • September 6, 2011 7:29 am

      I love Liz Lemon! She is such a great dog. Yes, Terri is home with her all day and does training and “business trips,” and gives her dinner, but I’m the one who takes her on walks and rides in the car, so I guess she associates me with “go out and have fun.” Which is understandable, but Terri’s over here saying, “What am I, chopped liver?”

  3. September 6, 2011 9:18 am

    Aww. that photo of Chelsea at the door after you left just says it all.

  4. September 6, 2011 10:57 am

    Without a doubt, she is the perfect dog….Just a side note on goldens. We dropped off my son at college on Friday and a 9-month old golden was walking down the hallway. Come to fine out, the college has 20 of them on the campus living with student/trainers. They are in training to be seeing eye dogs. They go everywhere with kids and are a fun part of dorm life.

    • September 6, 2011 11:36 am

      Oh my gosh. That would sell me on that college immediately. We are hoping to train Chelsea to be a therapy dog. She has to work on a couple of basic skills for her AKC Good Canine Citizen certificate, and then we can do the training. I love dogs in workplaces/schools!

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