In Los Angeles, CA, dogs seem to be treated better than people.
After moving out there and seeing this, I caught the desire to be a dog owner and wanted a tiny teacup Yorkie to put in a pocketbook so I could carry it around town with me.
If I only had one of those I wouldn’t obsess about myself from head to toe, or desire a miniskirt and Ugg boots to fit in with the culture. So I thought.
A dog in a bag, walking a dog along the palm tree lined streets.
And people with dogs did seem more peaceful. But then what about the roped off dog parks? Millions of dollars spent on food? Little dog outfits and sweaters? I thought this was like the Emperors New Clothes where people lavished emotions and attention and ideas on their pets instead on on themselves, pretending dogs really ‘got’ them, cared for them, protected them.
What’s a ‘dog person‘. Some say they’re a ‘dog person’ or say “I’m not a dog person’. I finally decided to rescue one and see which one I was, yet every time I found a rescue I wanted I was denied. The excuses given to me by the shelters were at the last moment, after going through extensive applications. As if the LA shelters couldn’t let go of their dogs.
“Your back yard isn’t big enough.”
or ”Your child is the wrong age for this dog”
or how about “You don’t have enough celebrities on your block”. (kidding, but not far fetched)
So I gave up finding a dog.
What you wish for may come true. As fate would have it, a dog would come to me. I got a phone call from a friend saying she had to give her dog away, and would I like to have it. Without hesitating, I envisioned my life with a white picket fence, boy, girl, tall dark and handsome man, and little white dog.
“YES!” Yes to a perfect life!
Cookie arrived an hour later.
I had no idea what to do with her. I tried putting her into a pocket book and she freaked out, barking as if she were fighting for her moral right to go against LA culture.
- She did her business on the floor. On the carpet.
- She barked every time a car in a five block radius drove by.
- She barked at night. Scratched at my bedroom door at 4 AM.
- She wanted my dinner.
- She didn’t eat her dog food.
- Help. Help. Help.
I visited the pet store. Stayed up late and Googled and YouTubed all the dog channels. How to this and that. What to do if you dog won’t sleep. Barks too much. Too little. Won’t eat. Wants to eat.
It was crazy.
Until Cookie chose ME.
I was the one she followed around. I was the one whose lap she wanted to sit on, snuggle next to on the couch, lay her head on my knee.
Huh. I wondered what it was she saw in me.
Slowly I figured out how to care for her. When she annoys me, I tell her I can always give her back to Linda if she doesn’t behave. She doesn’t seem to care, and I know she won’t end up on Jerry Springer’s couch because of my bad mood.
Yesterday she nailed her place in my heart. My 6 year old son came home angry from school, and started yelling and lashing out at me and in anger, kicked me on the shin. He never did that before, and before I could think of a response, Cookie charged at him, knocked him over and barked in his face, bit at his backpack and shoes and jumped all over him, keeping him away from me.
The rare sensation of feeling protected came over me. I felt protected. By a 5 pound white Maltese.
Someone/something stood up for me for real. She showed her fangs, fought for me. Wouldn’t let up.
Growing up, my father was the aggressor, not the protector and didn’t hesitate to use physical violence or raise his angry voice to get me to toe whatever line he decided to draw. My first husband used religion and a patriarchal culture to keep me in fear.
My next relationship was one where he could not stand up for me or protect me from himself, because he was deep in his own dark mental illness, depression, and busy reaching for whatever would ultimately break us apart.
Now my honor is defended, restored in a sense. I have my own warrior. I now know what it feels like to have my honor stood up for, fought for, and I like the feeling. Love it. Cherish it. Knowing for certain she won’t let me down makes me smile. I feel calm walking her, and put a sweater on her so she won’t be cold not as a dress up toy.
If she wants to come up on my bed sometimes, I bring her on, not to replace human connection but because she really is connected to me. She fought for her right and she won a real place in my heart.
I get it. I get why dog’s are a man’s or woman’s or child’s best friend. I get it now.
(I still have to deal with Benny kicking me in the shin).
Quote by Dean Koontz:
“No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog.
Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish – consciously or unconsciously – that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown.”
Do you have a dog story for me? send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will publish it here.