Les Chiens: A Love Affair


The pug on the left in the above picture is mine. My baby.

If someone were to ask my husband or one of my family members to name the top few things that define me, they would say that I love reading, that I love learning, that I love exercising, and that I love DOGS! They might mention dogs first, honestly.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved animals, especially dogs. I don’t really know why exactly. When I think about it, I think I love them most for their loyalty and the absolute love they give us. Also for the humor they bring to our lives. People say dogs relieve stress and anxiety. I don’t really believe that. All of the dogs I’ve ever had have added some amount of stress to my life, getting into trouble, being a responsibility when I have other things I want to do. However, people also say it that dogs relieve depression. That one I truly believe. They make me laugh. I love to take them on walks, which gets me outside and makes me happy. My dog cuddles me, truly believes I’m his mom, and follows me around everywhere. He eases my loneliness. Most importantly, he loves me unconditionally. He is my companion. He gets me a reason to keep going because I have to take care of him.

I believe that we, as humans, have a responsibility to take care of the other creatures that share planet Earth with us.

I’ve always believed this. I’m finally putting it into practice by buying only cage-free eggs, and trying almost always to buy organic chicken and organic beef. I believe it’s okay to do these things one at a time. Something is better than nothing.  Eventually, I want to move to also buying organic pork (which is for some reason hard to find – right now I just don’t eat a lot of it, but my husband does) and organic cheese/dairy products. Finally, after that, someday, organic fruit and vegetables. The real barrier to this is the cost. Hence the reason I’m doing it one at a time.

Helping animals gives me a real meaning to my life. The first dog I had that was my own (ie. not the family dog) was a Basset hound I got in college from an animal shelter. Boy was he a handful! But he became very beloved by my whole family. We still tell stories about him and his antics every time we get together. My mom was very supportive of me getting my own dog in college. I think because she knew it would help my depression. And it did. Ironically, my dad was very against it, saying he knew that eventually the dog would end up at my parents’ house (which he did when I moved to Tennessee!), yet my dad ended up being the dog’s biggest fan! They loved each other. Unfortunately, my Basset passed away in 2010, at the age of only five years old, from lymphoma. That was very hard, especially since it occurred during my husband’s deployment to Afghanistan. When we put him to sleep, my dad cried, and he will still tear up whenever we talk about the Basset.

When my husband was deployed, I began working with a Golden Retriever rescue in Denver. I actually became right away the transportation volunteer coordinator. This group rescued breeder dogs from the Midwest, most of whom were kept in terrible conditions and then abandoned once they became too old to produce puppies. I would coordinate the transportation of these dogs to the Denver area, and then to their foster homes and veterinary appointments. Through this group, my mom adopted two golden retrievers that I picked out. They are the sweetest dogs. When they came to us, they were very damaged, too scared to even go outside, especially when it was windy. It is extremely gratifying to see them now. They will stay outside by themselves, wrestle each other in the grass, and just generally seem so happy and rehabilitated. I especially love the first one we got my mom adopted, because she was my companion after my Bassett died and while my husband was deployed. She still remembers me whenever I go home. She’s such a sweet girl. I did all of my work with the dog rescue remotely from home from home, calling and e-mailing to set up the transportation from a pool of volunteers. I would also make adoption packet and do paperwork, etc. I didn’t work and was home alone at my parents’ house all day, and I probably spent 15+ hours a week on this volunteer work. It was so good for me.

I am planning, soon, to start volunteering with the animal shelter here. That’s going to be hard for me, but worth it. The nice thing about working with the dog rescue is that they were all in foster homes, and you knew they were never going to be euthanized. At the animal shelter, that will not be the case, but I’m hoping to work with socializing the dogs, and getting them out of their cages for playtime. A very worthwhile endeavor.

My pug that we have now, we got as a puppy in June 2011. I am more about rescuing dogs than buying puppies, but everybody’s got to have a couple puppies in their lifetime! The reason we chose to get a puppy (which I made sure was from a reputable breeder), was because of my nerve disorder. Buying a puppy enabled me to train it to heel, etc. while it was still small. My pug is so special to me because he is something I share with my husband, and with him we feel like a little family.

Anyway, I need to get working on volunteering at that animal shelter, filling out the application and going to the orientation!

Besides that, right now I am becoming content with being a housewife, until I get better, especially because my husband and I have some exciting things coming up that will take up a lot of my time!

Well, that some of my dog history. It’s definitely springtime here in Southern California. I pulled a muscle in my neck somehow yesterday, so it’s really hurting and stiff, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to go swimming today, but I am going to do a lot of cleaning and go to the pharmacy.

If you are a dog lover, tell me why and tell me about your dog!