Monday, August 08, 2005

Gone to the Dogs

As I was sitting on the bed this morning reading the blogs, Pete, one of my Jack Russells, was lying next to me snoozing peacefully. When I reached over and rubbed his head, he responded by rolling over onto his back and showing me his belly, wanting me to rub it instead. After a minute or so, I stopped, but he wasn’t ready to quit. When he wants a petting, he nudges his head up underneath my hand, or he paws at my arm (which really hurts, by the way, when his toenails rake across my skin) until I give in and pet him. He won’t let me stop until he’s ready—he could go on forever (kind of like the way I would let Husband scratch my back until it bled if he would). If I want to stop petting him, I have to actually get up and move, or I have to be firm with him and hurt his feelings. It doesn’t take much to hurt his feelings, either. One firm word will do it.

A funny thing about him is that if he does something he shouldn’t have done, he’ll punish himself. For instance, if he has an accident in the house and knows that I have found it, he’ll hunker down and slink off to the bedroom. He tries to hide under the bed, but he can only get himself halfway there. It’s funny to see him with his little backside sticking out.

As I am writing this, Emily, my Cocker Spaniel, is sitting next to the bed looking at me intently and whining periodically. She’s letting me know that it’s time to eat (she would eat all day long if I let her—she used to be overweight—we changed her diet so that she’d lose five pound, which is a lot for a little dog). When I acknowledged her presence, Pete became jealous and started pawing at my hand again, making it nearly impossible to type.

Trixie, Pete’s sister (although they look nothing alike as far as physical shape) is off doing her own thing. She’s probably under the bed or in the living room under the couch. She likes to be by herself when we’re in the house, but she comes out when there’s some action, and she loves to watch Animal Planet on TV. I actually have to change the channel to get her to calm down (she even barks at the horses when Husband watches Gunsmoke). It’s sort of funny though, when Pete catches Trixie barking at the TV, he goes and makes her stop. It’s as if he doesn’t want her to have any fun.

Trixie has a really terrible habit. Sometimes when she comes back after exploring around our five acres, she will stink to high heaven after having rolled around in the most foul, putrid, disgusting smelling mess that she can find. When she does this, I have to stop what I am doing and immediately give her a bath because there’s no way she can be in the house like that. It’s all I can do sometimes not to throw up when this happens.

Trixie and Pete need a lot of supervision when they are outside. They will run off after anything that moves, ignoring any danger that may be lurking. Emily is more sensible. I can trust her to look after herself and can let her out without supervision.

As much trouble as they can get into, Husband and I love those little dogs. It’s funny how humans can be so ga-ga over a completely different species. They don’t act, think, or talk like us, but they bring us such enjoyment. We’d do anything for them.

I am convinced that our dogs love Husband and me. They may not understand love as humans define it, but in their own way, they love us, and I think they like to try to please us. We’re like gods to them. They trust us to take care of them, rub their bellies when they want it, give them food when they need it—although sometimes they act as if they are half starved, like we’re going to forget to feed them; they can be very demanding at times.

Dogs and humans are a lot alike. We humans have personalities that are quite different from each other; we have our idiosyncrasies—we even have some disgusting habits. And God looks down on us and takes great pleasure in us. He sees the things we do and loves us anyway—even when we’ve been rolling around in filth. We love him the best that we can; we don’t know that our definition of love is so very different from his, but we try. And we don’t even have to get it right—he’ll rub our bellies anyway if we’ll just roll over and let him.


Tony Arnold said...

My dogs over the years have demonstrated the same attributes. Nudgeing and pushing under my hand or arm to be petted, and the rolling over to say "rub here."

The rolling in the most foul smelling stuff.

Self-punishment or being ashamed,especially if an accident happens, which is usually the human's fault for leaving them in too long while gone or ignoring their clear signals of "let me out."

Have you had to replace gutters and other external items that have been completely destroyed in their pursuits of chipmunks and other rodent? Boy, that one makes me so made, but they are just doing what they were created to do.

And the unconditional love given and also so desparately sought after. You can see their need in their eyes.


jettybetty said...

Sure dogs know love--
BTW, I can see why you love yours--they are exceptionally cute!!


JMG said...

Thank you, JB. I think so myself!

Tony, our dogs haven't torn up anything outside that I recall. However, they have a "toy" that they love to play with outside that takes a lot of abuse. In the second picture, Pete is standing next to a piece of corrugated pipe. Pete gets on one end, and Trixie gets on the other, and they tug and shake that pipe, growling all the while. It's a truely hilarious sight. They've gone through two or three 12-ft lengths of that pipe.

Mike Kear said...

I really enjoyed your article!

Bandit is my 15 1/2 year old Jack Russell. He looks a lot like the picture of your dog, except his black face is getting very grey. He is almost completely deaf and he snaps, crackles, and pops when he walks, but is otherwise in good health.

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, "Lord, help me to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am."

I am convinced that animals have souls. They are capable of love and a variety of other emotions. And I agree with the movie title: All Dogs Go To Heaven.



Tony Arnold said...

My dogs played tug of war with corrugated pipe too! Problem was it was in use and connected to the gutters!

Chipmunks escape the dogs into the nearest hole. If that hole, whatever it is, gets destroyed.

I don't mind the dog getting the moles though. I will fill the holes they dig.

I am down to one lab right now. We had to put our other dog down earlier this year.


JMG said...

I had a black cocker that I'd gotten when I was 19. She had congestive heart failure, and we ended up putting her down when she got so bad that she couldn't rest even with medication. That was the hardest thing I've ever done. I had her for 13 years.

Ayatollah Mugsy said...

I like your line about God being there to rub our bellies. Do you mind if I use it in my next sermon?

JMG said...

Feel free to quote me!