I was thinking today that I have a lot of accumulated dog knowledge that I should share with the world -- practical advice. Stories, too.
We had a cat when I was growing up, but we are definitely Dog People. Long before I wrote the essay for the book The Divinity of Dogs, I could have told you many stories about the dogs we've had over the years.
When I was in my 20's and 30's I lived alone, but I wanted a dog. I just didn't want to leave a dog alone for 10 hours a day while I worked. As soon as I became a mom I realized that immutable truth: children need dogs.
I always listen patiently when the vet tells me what to feed my dogs and how to feed them. Then I pretty much ignore the advice. A lot of folks have fat dogs. They feed the dog once or twice a day, a prescribed amount of food. We don't. We keep a pan of dry dog food out at all times, and the dog eats when she wants to eat. She's not fat. We've had dozens of dogs over the years and none have ever been fat. Dogs know when they should eat. If there's a pan of food out for them, and they don't have to worry about it, they will self-regulate.
Most of our dogs have been raised from puppyhood, but some have been rescues. All the rescues have adapted to this feeding method.
Lola loves carrots. She cries when I eat baby carrots. I always give her some. The vet said most fruits and veggies are fine. Not raisins, grapes, or chocolate, though.
Of course, you have to make sure the dog gets enough exercise.
Right now we don't have a fenced-in yard, so Michael and I walk Lola every day, 2-3 times a day, unless the weather is just terrible. It has been good for me as well as Lola. I had gotten far too sedentary.
We also talk to our dogs. Laugh all you want. Our dogs have vocabularies that are quite extensive.
Lola knows WALK WAIT DINNER GRANNY COME HERE COOKIE LET'S GO -- and lots of other words
When I was growing up we had a recue named Kaiser. He knew the words ICE CREAM. When Bruce and I got some, he got to lick the bowls, and he often licked it off our faces. It got to where when he saw the ice cream come out of the freezer he'd cry and carry on until he got some. He would get excited just seeing Mom put it in the freezer. So Mom and Dad started spelling it out i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m but Kaiser learned that the spelling meant ice cream too. Sometimes he'd howl and wrap his arms around the fridge if he knew there was ice cream in there.
Kaiser was very protective of us when we were little. If anyone came near the baby carriage or playpen and he didn't know them, he would growl. He simply didn't tolerate just anyone handling us either. We had a maid once that Kaiser didn't like, and Mom came home and heard Bruce crying, and the maid said Kaiser wouldn't let her near the crib to pick him up. Mom paid the maid and told her not to come back. Now, there was no evidence she had mistreated Bruce in any way, but Mom trusted Kaiser's instincts about people.
My grandfather always said, if the dog doesn't like someone, there's a good reason.
[Some day I hope to publish a little book about Kaiser. He was a unique and amazing animal.]
Back to advice..
Lola's coat is always shiny. That's probably because every morning she gets some egg and bacon from Mother's breakfast plate. Mother used to routinely scramble eggs for her dogs. They always had shiny, beautiful coats. A little olive oil in their food helps, too.
I used to think crating a dog was mean. Now I kind of understand it. Lola likes to go in Mother's closet and sleep on the floor. She also likes to sleep under the bed. Mother has had to get used to that. She said the first night she heard something moving around under the bed, and she was half asleep, it was very unnerving.
When I have been gone for several hours, Lola comes running to the door and throws herself into my arms. She's a hugger. Just loving on her relieves some of the stress of the day. She does the same with Michael.
When Michael is upset or anxious he makes a beeline for Granny's bed, and he gets up there and plays with Lola. He also played with Coco. Dogs provide great stress relief for kids. This is not just me talking - it's been proven.
I think that's why, when Coco passed away in fall 2013, Michael immediately wanted to get another dog. Within a couple of weeks, Lola joined our family.
Lola has brought such joy, amusement, and comfort to us all. If you think you'd like a bassett, I urge you to contact Basset Hound Rescue of Georgia. Or if you want a different breed, PAWS Atlanta, or any rescue organization in your town.
Dogs give love unconditionally, as long as they aren't mistreated. They are a great blessing from God.