Kevin MacMillan: They call it puppy love…
October 1, 2014
I've always wanted to own a dog, but every time I start thinking hard about it, I decide to hold off. The way I see it, a newspaper editor's busy schedule isn't real conducive to spending the appropriate amount of time one needs to train and groom a puppy.
After all, it's not really fair to the pooch if its owner is working back to back 12-hour days — and considering we live in America's playground at Tahoe-Truckee, there's too much hiking to be had with a dog to have it be stuck at home or in an office for hours on end.
Recently, I was lucky enough to spend about five days house/dog sitting in Glenshire for my good friends who own three dogs, ranging in age from 1 to 4 to 8 years old. I've known Boca, the littlest, pretty much since she was a baby; Lolita, the middle pup, for the past couple years; and Kaya, who we call "momma," the past six.
It was only for a few days, and despite the "issues" of dealing with a poop on the floor or one of them, ahem, mistaking a potted plant's dirt for a food bowl, I was grateful for the opportunity.
There's just something about dogs that's, well, incredible. It's hard to describe. Here's an example: Say you're having a crummy day at work, or perhaps something in your personal life has you bummed out, or, frankly, you're just having "one of those days." On the way home, you hit construction traffic, delaying your already-agonizing, headache-inducing commute. You finally make it home, feeling defeated, and cooking dinner seems like a gargantuan task.
So you trudge through the door, and there to greet you are three animals who are SO HAPPY to see you, their tails wagging uncontrollably, excited barks letting loose. If they could talk, it'd go like this:
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"HOLY. COW. You are home! This is GREAT news! You know why? Because I know you have the food! AND … you have the Frisbee that I know you want to throw for hours. HOURS, LET ME TELL YOU!!! So, can I have some food now please? Oh JEEZ, LOOK! There's something on your arms and legs that I must lick immediately! Let me help you with that!!!"
Sound about right?
Real quick — let me just take a moment to realize that I've evolved in my profession enough to apparently be comfortable with the fact that talking like an animal is worth a few paragraphs of news print.
Kidding aside, the point is that dogs know nothing of your crummy day. They have no clue that your boss was mean at work, or that you text-fought your girlfriend, or that you just happened to hit every red light on the way home.
It's a wonderfully endearing thing to be a part of, and it's because of those interactions that makes having pets such an acceptable thing. If you're a responsible owner, you can be a great companion to that animal and show it a much-better life than some of the alternatives.
Of course, while I prefer dogs, that's not to say others can't get the same type of value out of owning different animals. Many people are fond of cats. Or you could be a lizard person, for that matter. To each, his or her own, I say.
The irony of all this is I had already planned to write something along the lines of "how cool animals are" heading into the work week. And then I received the images Monday of Tahoe's Dumpster Puppies looking regal and healthy (and huge!) a year after they were left for dead in a trash bin, and I couldn't believe the coincidence.
Such a great story, and what adorable photos, no doubt. But it also stirred another thought, a reminder that someone out there apparently was not ready for the responsibility of nursing and grooming the animals, so he or she stooped to a very low level.
Unfortunately, as we continue to read these days in jaw-dropping headlines, some people, for whatever reason, do harmful things to animals. It blows my mind.
I try not to stand on ceremony, but I do know when I'm capable of doing things correctly, and, more importantly, when I'm not.
So for now, I'm going to continue not owning a dog — because I know that currently, I'm not prepared for the responsibility. And in the long run, that's the best thing I can do for the pooches until I'm ready.
I hope others in a similar situation have no problem following suit.
— Kevin MacMillan is managing editor of the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. Reach him for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.