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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

Do Not Get A Lone Little Doggie

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 4/15/2024
Occurred: 8/9/2022
Page Views: 575
Topics: #Pets
If your house will be empty for more than an hour or two at a time, do not leave your dog alone.

I just saw the saddest cartoon today on Facebook. It was supposed to be poignant, but it reveals an unconscious cruelty to our furry friends.

The poignancy is presented by this poor dog who has, presumably, been sitting at the door for 8 or 9 hours, waiting for its human to return. The cruelty is that this is completely unneccessary. Please allow me to consolidate the rules for having a relationship with dogs.

Cats are more solitary than dogs; people's video monitors indicate that cats are probably glad when their humans go off for awhile. A solitary dog does, indeed, sit and wait.

But this isn't very kind to the dog. While dogs do wait well, they evolved from social animals and often live for years at home with their parents, before starting families of their own.

I understand that most dog owners have to go to work. But the solution is simple.

Get two dogs.

Now, you don't want two puppies. Puppies are like human babies; they need an adult to keep them from hurting themselves by accident. But when the one dog you do have hits the ripe old age of four or five, a puppy makes the perfect companion. It gets your older dog out of its head and gives it someone to play with and nurture while the humans are away. And someday, when your older dog has passed, it will have passed on its knowledge and even training to the now-older puppy, who will then be ready for a puppy of its own.

And if you ever think that keeping a dog chained in your yard is the right thing to do, please read the reasons why this is a dreadful idea. Then either bring the poor creature inside to its rightful place as part of your family, or find a way to re-home it and please, never, never ever get another dog again. Or any pet, really. And probably not children.

And seriously, if you're worried about home invasion, a chained yard dog is no protection at all, as it's too easy to shoot before the invaders charge inside. An inside dog will take advantage of its intimate knowledge of its home to attack the invaders from a dark corner before they even know its there.

Even a super-friendly dog like Ella, my Golden, definitely knows when someone is dangerous. It's so rare it gets my attention. If a human comes near that she doesn't like, she makes it known with hackles raised, growls, and a frown that could freeze lava. Otherwise, she'll be all over you like a cheap suit, kissing and licking and letting you (and me know that you are A-OK.

Retired as I am, I am home almost all the time anyway. But when I take Ella for her walk (I walk them separately), I can hear Lilly (my other dog), howling until we return. Ella just barks when I take Lilly. Apparently, in dog langauage, that just means, "Come back!" And we always do.

But I can't take them to doctor appointments, or shopping. (I've noticed that when I leave, neither dog complains!) I've taught them that when I say I'll be "Right back!", it will just be a couple minutes (like checking the mail). If I give them a treat and tell Alexa to play "Calming Music for Dogs" (which, by the way, is also good background music for humans), they know I'll be gone for several hours.

I don't usually leave the TV on for them, though they do like watching it with me. An important note about television sets and dogs: This is not a problem with modern flat-screen TVs. But the older CRT-style sets? They emit a supersonic whine that humans can't hear but gives dogs (and cats and birds) headaches or worse. The smaller the animal, the worse it is. Imagine trying to function while a car alarm blares non-stop in your living room.

Luckily, in most households this is now a moot point.

In fact, now that most of us now have sub-woofers in our sound system, watching Marvel superhero movies with your dogs can train them to not fear fireworks and thunder. Watch The Avengers: Age of Ultron, first with the volume down, but increasing the volume. (You don't have to watch the whole movie; just the parts where aliens are destroying all the buildings in Manhattan.) Each time a building falls, give your dogs a little training treat.

And don't forget to have treats handy when Fourth of July roles around! But your puppers won't be afraid of loud noises anymore, because they'll associate such sounds with treats and being comfortable and loved at home.

If you are a frequent user of social media, you may have seen a plethora of adverts for shelter dogs that need a home. If you use the ads as a reminder that there are many dogs that need homes out there, good. But please don't send away for a shelter dog from one state if you live in a completely different state, at least not before checking a local shelter first. I guarantee you'll be able to find the perfect dog for you there, and without incurring exorbitant shipping costs.

What if you are retired, living alone, and finding yourself in your own head constantly, not getting enough exercise, and spending too much time getting depressed by politics? A dog is a solution, but I don't recommend getting a puppy for two reasons.

  • Puppies need constant supervision. They chew on furniture and have accidents that a retired person may find difficult to clean up after.
  • If you are 70, you might live longer than a puppy…but the odds aren't good.

For us older folks, I recommend getting a middle-aged dog (8 years or so). They haven't chewed furniture in years; they learn your routine easily, and are already grateful to you for rescuing them. (Don't imagine they don't know what's going on; dogs are very aware.)

Here's a photo of a pit bull who has finally been adopted. Don't try to tell me he doesn't know.

Dogs can add immeasurably to our lives. Yes, they aren't for everyone; cats also provide a different kind of companionship that is more suited to many people. Some people are allergic, which is how I got Ella (grandson was sad to learn he had an allergy to her) and Lilly (my son, same story). But for those who like dogs to start with, and who aren't allergic, the value they can bring to your life is invaluable.

A year ago, when I was living in Maui, my dogs suddenly took an interest in my neck, always sniffing and licking it. Finally, I felt around and found a small lump. So of course I went to the doctor, who referred me to a dermatologist, who determined it was a cancerous (not skin cancer, either) lump beneath the skin. He removed it and tests determined he got it in time, before it could spread.

I might never have noticed it if it weren't for the dogs. So I can, with some surety, declare that the doggos have saved my life at least once.

Oh, and by the way, there are lots of other health benefits associated with sleeping with your dogs. (Or rather, letting them sleep with you.) People whose dogs sleep with them, tend to live longer, for one thing.

I can't adequately express my gratitude for my little doggos. But I love them as much as they love me.