November 12, 2005

How I came to decide (actually) to get a dog, and other stories

Yesterday morning, while painting, I was listening to The Current. Robert Sapolsky, the author of several books including A Primate's Memoir and Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers was being interviewed. He's just written a new book called Monkeyluv: And Other Lessons on our Lives as Animals was being interviewed. Two things stood out to me (before the phone rang and I didn’t hear more of the program). First, in mating, male apes naturally look for females that are younger than themselves and ones who are healthy and fertile. Female apes look for males who are older and stable. Secondly, when courting, a female may be taken with a macho male ape but when his back is turned, she will run off and mate with a male who is kind and gentle. We humans have a lot to learn! From the little I heard of his interview, I am very interested in reading his book.

A lot of my life seems to revolve around CBC radio. I bought Stanley Coren’s book, How Dog’s Think after hearing him talk on the radio. I suppose that started me on the path that led to my eventually stepping over the blocks I had built up about having another dog (the expense, the responsibility, the vacuuming and of course, the inevitable death). I found the book fascinating, gave it to a friend for her birthday, lent it to another friend who was dog-sitting, have promised it to another friend who has a dog and hope to see the book travel well.

My phone call yesterday was from a friend who wants to go with me to see my puppy. She is planning on mating her dog soon and would like to talk to someone who has experience with breeding. Of course I will be delighted to have her come along. And someone else to talk dog with.

When I was at the dentist about a month ago, we started chatting about this and that (as we usually do), and I asked him how his dog was. (We had both experienced the loss of our beloved old dogs at the same time five years ago. His was a Sheltie, mine a Golden.) He said he now has two, a Sheltie and a mixed breed. But that if he were to get another dog, it would be a Portuguese Water Dog. I told him I had been thinking about them, had even written to a breeder in Cape Breton, but hadn’t seen the dogs so I didn’t really know what they were like. And I wasn't planning on getting one soon anyway. He then said there was a breeder in Chester. So I got her name, called her, went to see the dogs, didn’t think I would want one (they are not Golden Retrievers), went home and couldn’t stop thinking about Wave, the one who gave birth to a litter of ten pups (five girls and five boys) a couple of days ago. (And I know the breeder’s closest friend—we used to do obedience training together and she took care of my Katie often when I was traveling.) So it feel like I fell into it.

I’ve had dogs for most of my adult life. Often people, when they see me after an absence of a few years, ask me how (or if, depending) is (are) my dog(s). And they are surprised I didn’t get another dog after Katie died. But this was the first time in forty years that I didn’t have anyone to take care of and I wanted to experience that as fully as I could. And I have. And I do want another warm loving creature in my house. So—that’s the story.

Posted by leya at November 12, 2005 05:10 PM