While I am give myself a mental break from work and the website, several of my fellow bloggers have generously agreed to take over my posting duties. Today’s blog was written by a fellow Canadian! Mother of three, the writer of The Dog Park blog somehow manages to stay anonymous. I’ve been reading her posts for a while now and I am always touched by her commitment to her dog and her family. Unfortunately, she doesn’t write nearly often enough for my liking. Knowing how busy she is collecting various degrees, I am grateful she took the time to share her perspective here.
When Kristine asked me to do a guest post, she said topic and length were up to me. I write better on assignment; I need a theme. As the blog is called “Rescued Insanity,” I decided to look there for ideas.
Kristine calls her blog “Rescued Insanity” for two reasons. Reason one, Shiva is both a rescue and insane (in a good way, of course). Reason two, owning a dog rescued Kristine from the insanity of boredom. In addition to twelve pairs of chewed shoes, owning Shiva has given Kristine some structure and goals: daily walks, blog posts, and of course, agility training. So the question is, has my dog rescued me from insanity?
As with Kristine, the answer is both yes and no.
First the “no.” Number one, while I love dogs, there are some breeds I like more than others. I like fluffy little things that can’t reach past your knees, give kisses, and fit in your lap with ease. German shepherds are far down the list. I subconsciously associate them with World War II prisoner-of-war camps, an association reinforced by their modern connection as police dogs. I don’t need a guard dog. I was never interested in owning a dog that looks intimidating or barks too loudly. Our Best Friend strikes out on both counts.
Number two, OBF is highly anxious. We have many friends who are terrified of dogs, and they no longer visit us because I can’t put OBF behind a closed door (say, in my bedroom) and leave him there. He goes mad barking and trying to dig his way out through the floor. I can’t leave him alone in the back yard on leash, either. He barks and howls until we come to rescue him.
With the anxiety comes number three: a high level of nervous energy. He barks hysterically and jumps at the door repeatedly the minute he realizes we’re going for a walk. During the walk, he pulls on the leash. Whenever we put him in the car he goes berserk barking until we get to wherever we’re going. And don’t ask about his prey drive. He walks looking up to find squirrels in the trees. If he sees one, he makes every attempt to scramble right up the trunk to get it. Cats aren’t safe from him either, and I love cats, so that annoys me.
So, in summary, I have an overly-large incredibly anxious German shepherd mix who barks too much, is difficult to walk, a pain to drive around, and chases anything that moves.
So why did we keep him? He was up on Petfinder for six months; I could have left him there longer, and by now I’d have my little white Maltese/bichon cross who would sleep quietly in a basket while we entertain, leaving no fur on the guests’ clothing because, unlike Our Best Friend, my ideal dog wouldn’t shed. Yet we still have him.
One reason we kept him, the silliest reason, was because he’s so beautiful. Yes, he is intimidating, especially for people who don’t care for dogs, but he’s no less beautiful for it. Instead of black and tan like a pure GSD, he is all shades of brown. He has an unbelievably gorgeous, wavy, plumy, Malamute tail. The Spouse tells people he’s going to cut it off and hang it on the wall. Even people who dislike dogs admit he’s a beauty.
Second, although he came with many issues, he also came fairly well trained. He sits. He stays. He doesn’t jump on people. He never, ever, goes in the garbage or counter-surfs. He only eats people food that falls on the floor. He’s easy to feed; I’ve never had him walk away from his bowl no matter what I put in it. He’s non-destructive and we don’t need to crate him. My Oldest taught him a few simple tricks, and he’s quick to learn (everything but the word “Quiet!”). He’s eager to please, even when he doesn’t understand how.
Loyalty-wise, he’s a true shepherd; we are his people, and he needs to be with us. When we first got him, he was fearful and aggressive. Now a dirty look from me makes him whimper rather than growl. He cuddles. In the absence of distractions like squirrels, he always comes when called. He patiently puts up with what he doesn’t love, like very small children who pull his tail, or being brushed or bathed (though he does cry in the bath). And as much as I hate the barking, I feel much better leaving three girls alone in the evening knowing that bark will make people of ill intent think twice.
Finally, Our Best Friend has brought me two things. One, he brought me back to writing, after decades of hiatus. I don’t write regularly, but I am writing, and it’s a start. Two, he brought me a new community of friends, both at the dog park and on-line. As a mother of three trying to juggle too many things, I don’t follow as many blogs as Kristine does, but those I do follow give me my daily smile, and often make me think. My outings to the neighbourhood dog park have filled my life with characters and stories that can, and do, fill many blog posts. There is no question that the dog park saves my sanity. It’s my outlet, my escape, my place to be when I want to be somewhere else. I wouldn’t have that without Our Best Friend.
He’s my partner during the long days with kids at school and the Spouse at work. He’s a hot water bottle on cold days when the furnace is off. He’s my unconditional love fix. He keeps me sane while simultaneously driving me crazy. He’s my dog, for better and worse. And he’s off Petfinder for good.