I wasn’t a dog person, ever. There, I said it! I didn’t get it, didn’t understand this dog crazy society we live in. “Dogs of Instagram”?! “Fur babies”?! “Pet parents”?! I used to think you all had lost your minds! To me, babies were cute, toddlers were cute … not dogs. Dogs were ... just dogs. We kept them on our property as protection, as guards. Of course we take good care of them, we feed them, we shelter them and love them. We pat them on the head and say “good boy.” But at the end of the day, we go inside our homes and they find a cozy place in the yard or the dog house to spend the night. Having been raised on a farm, that was how I saw it. Pets served a purpose, had their place and contributed by barking to scare off intruders and unwanted guests.
People and their dogs made me roll my eyes. Dogs sleeping in bed with their owners. Dog birthday parties. Dog cookies purchased from dog bakeries. I wondered what was this world coming to. Dogs in doggie strollers. Dogs wearing season-appropriate clothing. I was seriously unsure about our future as intelligent two-legged beings.
But then one day, after pretty much 10 years of saying no to my kids about getting a puppy, my then-13-year-old flopped back on the couch, begged for a dog and cried the biggest alligator tears ever seen. I had a weak moment. And I started thinking, OK, it might be OK to have a dog around. For protection, someone to bark at strangers, a “guard dog.” And also, an excuse for me to get out and walk every day. So I said yes.
We settled on a golden retriever. We paid a deposit. We started corresponding with the breeder and he would update us with cute, sweet, adorable, melt-your-heart puppy photos. Oh my gosh. Our puppy, our baby. And that is how it started. I began forwarding the baby pictures to friends and family, I showed the pictures to coworkers. The puppy area of my heart was beginning to melt and it was dripping quickly. A name had been picked by my daughter, who proclaimed herself the mom of the puppy (I was grandma … ugghh, groan) and her name would be Remi. Every week an updated photo was texted to me, this adorable little tiny golden furry face with droopy little sad brown puppy dog eyes.
Fast forward four months and, well, now she’s truly a member of the family and we cannot imagine life without her. We love her, we hug her, we kiss her. We say goodbye to her as we go out the door as though we are speaking to one another. Remi sleeps with my daughter and has even been known to sleep in bed with my spouse and I. My heart has completely melted because of her. She’s sweet, she’s adorable, she’s a big suck, she’s got such a personality! Sometimes we just sit in the evening and watch her, she’s our entertainment. She’s so amusing.
I’ve sucked up the fact that there are now vet bills, dog hair on all the furniture (even places I swore would be off limits to the dog), paw prints on the floor constantly and a baseboard that was ever so slightly chewed up (she’s just a puppy, she was teething). Our yard now has yellow stains throughout, not to mention the other little piles that need to be cleaned up on a regular basis. I’m now that person, who I swore I would never be, walking down the sidewalk laughing and talking to my fur baby, the little green plastic steamy bag swinging away in my hand. Yep, that’s me. Along with my weekly repertoire of baking must-haves for the humans in the house (bran muffins and homemade granola), I have now added dog cookies. Well, if we can have home-baked goodies then why can’t she?
And even when she’s underfoot and I’m constantly tripping over her and the squeaky toy has been squeaked 6,000 times and we can’t even hear ourselves think, and the belly rubs are incessant and the game of fetch is never-ending and we are tired and just want to relax ... we wouldn’t change a thing. We wouldn’t trade her for the world. We can’t remember life before her, can’t imagine life without her. We love her to pieces.
And I finally get it, I finally understand. This crazy obsession with dogs. The relationship between owners and their pets. Next September, our household will surely be hanging a Happy Birthday banner for the “best doggo,” there will be a cake, a party, she’ll invite her little puppy bestie, wear a party hat and we’ll sing.
The old me would roll her eyes and groan. But I don’t care. I am now one of those people. I love dogs, and I’m not ashamed to say it!
Carla Antichow, who lives in Thompson, is a nurse, a mother to three teenagers and most recently a devoted “grandma” to a six-month-old golden retriever.