Life with a Dog

Written by C.A. Keith

I grew up with dogs around us, big furry, hairy, slobbery dogs.  St. Bernard, Bouvier’s; German Shepherds and others.   The kids had past their teens, and life was going well. In less than 10 years we will retire, so life is going well for me. I had time to do my own thing: go shopping on my days off, lunch with friends, holidays and weekends visiting my parents.

“Ahhh! Life was good.” Until my husband broached the topic of getting a sweet little puppy. Now don’t get me wrong, when I walk past cute little puppies in the mall I adore them. I hug and pet them and then I give them back. We were cat people, we had 2 cats that had passed away. Life was good with only one bird to take care of. I was commitment free again. The kids were doing their own things, could I be ready to take in a little puppy?

Well, it was settled; we were getting a puppy. Not just any puppy — but a great big Bernese Mountain dog puppy. My husband works long hours in a manufacturing plant and luckily I work mostly from home, so it was settled, I would have a companion. I didn’t need a companion, my husband always dreamed of having a Bernese dog; then came another girl cat which was affectionately named Dan, so for months I never slept.

“Yip, bark,” which translated to “Mommy I don’t want to sleep downstairs by myself, I’m lonely.”

To which my husband responded, “Oh, poor Bailey, we can’t leave her downstairs.”

One weekend I had to go away and you can guess who found her way to my bed, a great big slobbery dog!

Two years and Bailey is finally settling down a bit — mind you she is a great dog.                   She is definitely my dog and runs to daddy if mommy yells at her.

So what have I learned in the past two years:

  • I’ve learned that you’ll never have your own bed ever again.
  • You’ll never have clean floors at any given time.
  • You’ll never have pet free pants.  Forget nice black dress pants (everything will be covered with dog hair.
  • In our house you better put your shoes up or keep them on. Bailey still likes to eat shoes.
  • Puddles are abundant. Especially near the island, where food may drop. Expect to step in one. Thus, you better keep your shoes on. Don’t feed Bailey or she’ll never leave you. She may give you the, “They never feed me. I’m wilting away,” kinda look. Don’t believe her. Did you see the size of her? She is not wilting away. Trust me!
  • Never expect to sit on the couch alone. Bailey is an attention monger. She will likely flop heavily on to your lap and roll over on her back, on your lap, and expect a belly rub. All 126 pounds of her.
  • Hold tight, when she sees you be prepared to be sniffed and searched for possible treats. Don’t most people have treats in their pockets? She runs at you and tips her head up, right into your pants then plops down on top of your feet. Be prepared to pet her for a few minutes. She never gets any attention. “Poor Bailey.”
  • If you sit or lie down on the couch, expect that Bailey thinks you are inviting her on your lap.
  • Expect to go for walks. At least you’re getting fresh air right? Bailey is a winter dog. The colder the better. Bailey doesn’t care if it is raining.  Thunder is scary. She will run quickly to hide.  Snow is the perfect weather. The heat kills her. Throw a stick and play in a snow bank and you’ve got a forever friend.
  • If you are walking and there is something dead or smelly, Bailey will be rolling in it. A bath will be expected.  Have you ever tried to lift an uncooperative 126 pound dog into the bath?
  • The good thing I learned is that if a Bernese decides to make friends with a skunk, the oils in their fur are repellant to skunk spray.  Scrub the dog lightly with a little bit of dish soap and baking soda, rinse and brush her out.  Most of the odour will be eliminated.
  • Toys are everywhere. Expect to sit on a smelly lumpy thing. It is likely a slobbered on stuffed animal buried under a pillow.
  • Gas? Well, its inevitable. You may hear a burp or a smell a silent odour that permeates the room. Don’t think that if there is a huge gathering that you could sneak one in. Bailey will sniff you out and let everyone know the culprit. You can’t blame the dog.
  • Before you leave, check your clothes one more time for slobber or fur.
  • Spring time is a time where you have lots of pruning to do. Don’t worry. Bailey’s got your back.  The ornamental grasses and all bottom tree branches and plants, will be ripped out for you. Thus we decided to build a small fence around the garden this year.
  • You need holes dug?  Bailey can have a two foot hole dug in about a minute. You turn your back for two minutes and there is a huge crater. I fill up the hole with new dirt. Later the hole is back. I don’t know where the new dirt has gone. She power digs.
  • Don’t worry if you spill something on the floor. You don’t get the 5 second rule time at our house. Bailey will clean it up before it falls to the floor. Remember she is right under foot near any food source. The only thing I can be happy for is that she is too big to jump up on the counter. I’m surprised that she hasn’t figured out how to put her huge bear paws up on the island to steal food.
  • However, if you are holding food near her face, you may lose a finger. Be careful. She won’t try to hurt you on purpose but she will snatch it quickly so she doesn’t miss the opportunity that presented itself.
  • If you’re in the backyard, keep your head down. There are land mines in our backyard. Huge smelly land mines.

Well, I’ve learned a lot about dogs these past two years. I find myself giggling as I’m writing this.  I do love her with all my heart. If you are sad, happy, anxious, or excited; a dog is there to greet you as if they haven’t seen you in years. Even if you come in from outside, she will greet you excitedly. A dog will cuddle up and listen to you as you are comforted by their head in your lap.

Dogs make you laugh and break your heart when they are sick.  At the age of one, Bailey tore the ligaments in her knee while jumping off our bed.  My heart ached for her while she limped around in pain.  Being a Registered Massage Therapist, I did what I would do for my patients.  I iced her leg and kept her as still as you could keep a puppy. For Bailey that would be sitting on the floor and petting her.  I massaged her leg and moved the joint around several times daily. She healed really quickly.  Your heart breaks when they are poorly.

Nevertheless, dogs are wonderful.                                                                                                      Dogs are a life changer and truly I am a better person because of her.

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