by Emilia Diamant
Bartholomew the Beagle.
Chaz the Cockapoo.
Pom the Poodle.
Buddy the Schnauzer.
Mabel the Mutt.
I was raised in homes with dogs. I barely remember ‘Thmew, but I know he was my mother’s first dog, and she loved him hard. Chaz didn’t last long–not housebroken, behavior issues, etc. Sadly he had to be returned from whence he came. Pom was my dog from Kindergarten through 12th grade. I remember the day we had to put him down–tears still come to my eyes when I think of it. Buddy, still kicking at the ripe old age of 11, came to us at barely a year old, and he and I bonded during the summer of 2003. I adopted Mabel from a no-kill rescue shelter in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and she is currently the love of my life.
Dogs are the best. They love, they kiss, they protect, they snuggle, they live to see you and be with you. My parents taught me, through dogs, that unconditional love in a furry bundle is important and necessary for the human spirit to thrive. Between leaving my parents house in ’03 and adopting Mabel six years later, there was a void. No other being depended on me for food, water, or exercise. I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong, but once Mabel came bounding into my life it was clear–I needed a dog.
I now understand why my mother was so attached to ‘Thmew. When you’re single, your dog is your partner. The one who’s always there, who won’t talk back, who just wants to give you kisses and show you how much they love you. Mabel never fails to make me smile as she snores, grunts, and whimpers every night, cuddled up in bed next to me.
Dogs teach kids responsibility, they say. It’s true, even if they aren’t the one doing all the walking or feeding. The acknowledgement that there are beings in the world that depend on us is a humbling idea. One day I imagine a baby might depend on me for food, water, shelter, love, general well-being. Having a dog, while admittedly quite a bit easier than a child, is a good reminder of what it will take. Patience, scheduling, consideration of others, accountability. I doubt that’s what my parents were going for–they’re dog people, thank goodness–but it’s a nice side benefit.