I Love My Dogs
I'll say it again. I. LOVE. MY. DOGS.
I'm not ashamed to say I love my dogs. It's just hard for me to convey to people how much I love them. Without sounding crazy, at least.
I can safely say I will never have children.
My dogs are my children. When people say dogs are just "animals," I beg to differ.
I'm not saying, nor will I ever say, that owning a dog is just like having a child. It's not. There are, however, a lot of similarities.
I'm responsible for a life - in my case four lives. I have to make sure all their physical needs are met - food, water, a comfortable place to sleep, vaccinations, bathroom breaks, and exercise - as well as having to tend to their emotional wellbeing.
Dogs are sentient beings. They think. They have feelings. They perceive. Most of all, they know what suffering is. That makes it hard not to think of them in human terms.
When my boy Xander got pancreatitis, I spent many sleepless nights just lying beside him on the floor. The pain he was in was excruciating for me to watch, but what was I supposed to do? Just leave him there, alone in his suffering? No. Like any good parent, I was there by his side, comforting him all through his ordeal. Cleaning up after him when he could not make it outside to the bathroom. Administering his medications every hour on the hour.
I was fraught with anxiety. The thought that I could lose Xander scared me to death. I cried as I lay with him, watching his shuddering breath, hoping his next breath would not be his last. He is, after all, just like a child to me.
I'm lucky. I run my own business. I can only imagine trying to explain to a boss that the reason I am exhausted is because my dog has been sick. Or that I needed to take a day off work to take care of him. How would that go over? People with children can do that without a second thought. People with dogs would be considered a little crazy for doing the same.
I take my dogs with me almost everywhere I go. Again, I am lucky in this regard. I own a dog walking business. I spend practically every moment of every day with my dogs. The only time I leave them is when I have to go places dogs are not welcome - a restaurant, theater, store, or hotel. Wherever it is, people usually have their kids with them. My dogs, though, must stay home alone. Talk about feeling guilty.
My dogs can sense when I'm having a bad day. The roughhousing stops. They get quiet. Pearl gets on my lap. Xander rests his head on my thigh while looking up at me with thoughtful understanding eyes. They get me. They know what's going on. They're not just "animals."
I love my dogs, and I know my dogs love me.