2012-10-24 / Columnists
Pets pets pets
Our dogs’ lives are microcosms of our own. Fifteen years, if we are blessed with the “maximum” amount of time together, can go by in an eye blink. It may seem that just yesterday the faithful, old friend snoring at your feet was a peppy puppy tearing around the yard. Each moment is precious, but too often we take our dogs’ presence for granted.
I am particularly guilty of filling my day with concerns about so many rescue dogs, near and far, that my own beloved dogs get upstaged or ignored. As a reminder, the following ghost written letter appeared in an Afghan Hound Rescue forum recently:
I Am Your Dog (Author Unknown)
I am your dog and I have a little something I’d like to whisper in your ear. I know that you humans lead busy lives. Some have to work, some have children to raise. It always seems like you are running here and there, often much too fast, often not noticing the truly grand things in life. Look down at me now, while you sit there at your computer. See the way my dark brown eyes look at yours? They are slightly cloudy now. That comes with age. The gray hairs are beginning to ring my soft muzzle.
You smile at me and I see love in your eyes. What do you see in mine? Do you see a spirit? A soul inside, who loves you as no other could in the world? A spirit that would forgive all trespasses of prior wrong-doing for just a moment of your time? That is all I ask. To slow down, if even for a few minutes, to be with me. So many times you have been saddened by the words you read on that screen, of others of my kind passing. Sometimes we die young and oh so quickly. Sometimes we age so slowly before your eyes that you may not even seem to know until the very end, when we look at you with grizzled muzzles and cataract-clouded eyes. Still the love is always there, even when we must take that long sleep to run free in a distant land.
I may not be here tomorrow. I may not be here next week. Someday you will shed the water from your eyes that humans have when deep grief fills their souls, and you will be angry at yourself that you did not have just one more day with me. Because I love you so, your sorrow touches my spirit and grieves me. We have now together. So come sit down next to me here on the floor, and look deep into my eyes. What do you see? If you look hard and deep enough we will talk, you and I, heart to heart. Come to me not as an alpha, or as a trainer, or even as mom and dad. Come to me as a living soul and stroke my fur and let us look into one another’s eyes and talk. I may tell you something about the fun of chasing a tennis ball, or I may tell you something profound about myself or even about life in general. You decided to have me in your life because you wanted a soul to share such things with. Someone very different from you; and here I am. I am a dog, but I am alive. I feel emotion, I feel physical senses, and I can revel in the differences of our spirits and souls. I do not think of you as a dog on two feet; I know what you are. You are human, in all your quirkiness, and I love you still.
Now, come sit with me on the floor. Enter my world, and let time slow down if only for 15 minutes. Look deep into my eyes and whisper into my ears. Speak with your heart and with your joy, and I will know your true self. We may not have tomorrow, and life is so very short.
Speaking of Afghan Hounds, I had the pleasure of helping at the Afghan booth again during AKC Meet the Breeds last weekend at the Javits Center. Visitors experience 160 dog breeds and 52 cat breeds. The exhibition aims to acquaint prospective owners with the needs, as well as pros and cons, of each breed so future owners can make informed decisions before acquiring a new pet. Dog clubs stress the importance of purchasing a pup from a reputable breeder, never a pet store, after researching whether the breed of your desire fits your lifestyle. Most clubs also promote their purebred rescue efforts and make sure interested parties hear that rescued purebreds make great companions too.
Booths are decorated to reflect the heritage and history of each breed. Afghans are stretched out on a faux Persian rug under a colorful casbah tent. The breeds are arranged in alphabetical order, and since the Affenpinschers failed to show, Afghans are first.
On Sunday, a quartet of champions and a pair of feisty puppies dazzled the crowd. Afghan tresses banded in ponytails or protected by leopard skin booties seem to mesmerize onlookers. Canine celebrities- the Westchester Afghans- Marcus from Finland and Amelia from Sweden, plus Manny and Scarlet from Montauk-spent the day entertaining with bows, high fives and graceful leaps on and off the grooming table as they took turns posing for photos with their many admirers.
Manny, a magnificent cream, is the canine equivalent of Fabio. I served as his unofficial agent, displaying his Vogue ad and National Geographic spread besides the real deal. To our chagrin, his National Geographic disappeared. I should have known better because each time I bring samples of the breed rescue calendar, a klepto, or perhaps an Afghan groupie, takes them too.
For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631- 643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon are two special needs dogs this week. “Wendy” #12-262, the purebred Westie, was found in Wyandanch in deplorable conditions. This young sweetie had severe flea dermatitis and perhaps allergies. Something is going on with her back leg too. She is so appreciative of the care she has gotten thus far. Meanwhile, “Goldie” #12-584 is an adorable Lab/Shepherd mix puppy about six months old. She adores attention and plays fetch, but will need more socialization around other dogs.