Man’s Best Friend

19 Oct

A sad day in the Quen family is being tempered by the dedicated behavior of Lucky the Dog.  Lucky did what we’ve come to expect of the family pet and yet are always surprised by their actions when they do.  Lucky’s owner, Joseph Quen, passed away hunting in the wilderness two weeks ago.  When the search finally found Quen’s body, who do you think rested at his side?  Yep, Lucky the Dog. KIEM TV had the story. (http://kiem-tv.com/node/2409)

Owning a dog is an interesting anthropological study.  At least I feel it falls under Anthropology since it’s all about man’s interaction with a formerly wild breed of animal within our home.  An animal.  Living, breathing, and walking around searching for food and comfort within my home.  In my home you have to add escaping the grasp of a very curious and friendly 2 1/2 year old plus a relatively immobile 7 month old with quick hands.

All the burden associated with owning a dog sometimes consumes how Latte (our dog) exists in my life.  Often I only seem to focus on her need for food, exercise, the chance to relieve herself outside, and that constant yearn for affection.  However, once in a while she reminds me of why she is truly our four-legged furry family member.  Her needs for affection have landed her on my lap when I need a little extra comforting and that scientifically proven calming effect from petting a dog had made my day just a little bit better. (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/made-each-other/201005/dog-good).

Then there are the really surprising times she reminds me of how important I am to her and her to me.  One random day in a dog park a large lab charged me.  Pounding the ground at full speed that lumbering 100 lb. animal got me to tense up as it closed in.  I have no idea whether it was going to hit me or just race by me.  The dog never had a chance to reach me.  Just 2-3 feet from my trembling stiff body, my 11 month old puppy, weighing no more than 25 lbs, crashed into the labs side and knocked it off course.  At first I thought it was just my imagination, but often when I’m in a park with the double stroller and another dog gets a little too animated around the stroller or me, my 3-year-old Lab-Staffordshire (mini pit) mix informs the dog that it’s just a little too close for her comfort.  Now, she’s a pretty small dog, but she’s a tightly wound 35 lbs. of muscle now at three years old and doesn’t back down from anything.  She’s submissive to the appropriate dogs, but not if that dog invades our space with more than a friendly sniff.

About six months ago she again reminded me of one of her other many skills.  Around 2am I thought I heard a knock at the door.  I was drifting off to sleep and as we’ve all explored those little bumps in the night, I’m certain my patrol of the grounds would have convinced me the sound was all in my head.  However, someone else was at guard that night too.  Latte went absolutely ballistic.  That 35 lbs of fur bristled and she put out the biggest big dog bark I’d ever heard her muster.  When I got downstairs she was standing on the sofa and letting whatever was on the other side of our walls know, at full volume, they were not welcome.

I took a little tour out the front door and noticed nothing, but I’m convinced someone was testing who had dogs or alarms and who didn’t and now they know messing with my house elicits something worse than an alarm; an alarm with teeth and an attitude.  Latte’s incredible hearing and innate desire to protect helps me sleep at night.  I had no idea how much I rely on her until we went on our first vacation where my little toddler at 2 years old slept in another room.  We set up a bed for her in the living room on the sofa.  She loved it.  What I didn’t love is that I wasn’t between the front door or the balcony door and my daughter.  We set up the baby monitors mostly so I could hear everything going on in our little mini-apartment and sleep more soundly.

Recounting the blessings of dog ownership brings me to a sad conclusion…she doesn’t get everything from me she needs.  Latte was once my main source of enjoyment and pretty much my only job.  In the fall of 2008, I went unemployed for seven months and those jobless days started just prior to us adopting Latte for my wife’s birthday.  Latte had me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  We went to every dog park I could find and walked at least 2 hours most days.  She curled up with me every where and followed me at all times.  She spent the evenings resting on my wife’s pregnant belly with her head nestled in my wife’s growing bosom.  To say she was content would be an understatement.

Then I got two jobs and disappeared for 60 hours a week.  Then the first child showed up and once my wife returned to work, I was around the house more, but occupied.  Eventually though, the stroller provided plenty of walking opportunities and Latte didn’t suffer too much.  Then kid number two showed up this year and Latte’s life significantly changed.  We still get out for exercise most days, but I have very little free time when home with the kids.  If I’m on the floor, I’m not there to wrestle with the dog, but read or put together a puzzle with a toddler.  When I’m curled up on the couch, there’s most likely an infant sleeping in my lap and no room to cuddle with daddy.

The neglect of Latte led me to rethink a desire for a third child since my current third child (Latte) doesn’t get all the attention she really needs.  Today, I’ll make an extra effort to give her some affection, a treat or two, and plenty of time chasing the ball, but another kid is going to have to wait until my 2 1/2 year old is old enough to take over some of the dog loving our household needs to do.

LATTE BEGGING FOR A WALK

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