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It's a Dog's Life

If you are looking to make friends, find new interests or are bored, you have nowhere better to look than your dog. If you don't have one, get one.

I have had a dog all my life. When we walked him and came across another dog we'd tighten up the leash or one of us would cross the street. We played with him by throwing a ball or tug or war. We'd brush him, pet him and make sure he had plenty of food and water. Period. Our dogs were always a part of the family but not the head of it.

When I was in grade school one or two of the streets we went down would sometimes have a pack of dogs (four or five) running around. Although I loved dogs, I was always afraid because they were loose and I feared getting in the way of a dogfight. Come to think of it I don't remember ever seeing one. My dad always said to stay away from unfamiliar dogs and I still think it's a good idea.

Each of my dogs has received more and more privileges, and they take them for granted. If our dog "Trouble" could see more recent dogs sleeping on the couch, and beds!, eating their dog food with sauces, having bones or special evening treats, and enjoying the social life that our later dogs have had he'd be appalled.

dog with bone

Even our last lab who died at age fifteen (about three years ago) never socialized with other dogs. The only people he had contact with were from our family and friends when we were there to supervise.

We once tried to bring my daughters dog (a very young puppy) over to see if they got along so we could exchange puppy sitting. Conan never stopped licking her and Maggie wanted none of it. That was our first and only attempt at that.

And then came Hogan! Oh my God! How times have changed! Hogan is now 15 months old and 94 pounds of solid black lab. He has a social life compared to none.

These days when you walk your dog, the other dogs' masters stop and greet you. Everyone is caring their little bags for accidents. Children will come up to you and walk along with you and the dog. Hogan has a large following. When he is chained in the yard other people will stop with their dogs to "say hello." He is happier when he sees them on their turf or neutral territory.

woman with dog

The little dog next door, Finn (who weighs about nine pounds) is a playmate of his. He loves the family next door and has been known to bark for them to come out to play - and they do!

My son (his walker) knows all the neighbors. When we drive, people all over the neighborhood are waving and he says "Oh, that's Bear's or Smokey's family."

The neighbors are now up in arms because they feel there is a family who keeps their dog changed to a garage and not able to exercise. The neighborhood has a cause.

We had a few invitations this summer that said to bring Hogan so the dogs can get to know each other. There are kindergarten classes, yes and pre-kindergarden classes.There are play sessions at various places.

I am now reading a book on living with your adolescent dog, that a person on the walk recommend to my son. I thought I was done after Dr. Spock.

They opened one of those open play areas in our neighborhood - a Doggie Park. No supervision except by other dog owners. My daughter and son take him there and sometimes there are as many as thirty dogs running and chasing one another.

dog chasing frisbee

It's hard for me to believe they're not fighting. They run and play until a new dog approaches. Then they all line up at the gate to smell and greet the new arrival.

They drink from each other's bowls of water. They tell me it is very interesting to see the different breeds playing together. The Border Collie is always trying to keep them together.

When one of the dogs has to relieve himself the others give him privacy. They seem to have a group culture. Some people have left chairs and balls there to be shared by all.

My daughter was very proud of Hogan last Saturday when a new four-month-old puppy came to the park. He hid under a chair and the other dogs wanted a sniff and to check him out. Hogan kept circling around the chair keeping the others away. If one got close he would take his paw like a hand and push him away. Eventually the dog came out and Hogan went back to playing with the other dogs. Who died and put him in charge?

You can tell the time of day by the people who brings their dogs to the park. woman with dogMornings it's usually retired people, after school the older kids and after work men and women who don't even take time to change clothes; women in their high heels etc.

"I just want to tire him out so I can enjoy my dinner and television. I'm tired and he has been resting all day."

When the car stops, usually well-behaved dogs pull and tug to get in the park. I wonder if all these years they missed having contact with some of their own.

I got email mail today about dance classes for dogs! Now that is too much. I know people who are busy making Christmas outfits for their pets. Hogan will probably have more gifts than I.

Everyone knows everyone; everyone has a common interest and something to talk about. They have clubs for pedigrees, mutts and rescue dogs. The pet stores welcome your dogs to shop with you. Again a great place to meet people of similar interests.

You can never be lonely even if you want to be if you get yourself a dog. They are always so happy to see you and just love being near you no matter your mood.

I heard an entrepreneur say dog products are the biggest things out there. The baby boomers have sent their children out and are now enjoying their pets. Dog walking and sitting is a lucrative business.

When we took our other dogs to the Vet it was a sterile place with a small waiting room and 2 rooms in the back for examinations. The place my daughter takes Hogan has a room with a reflecting pool and gold fish. A parrot adds interest.

They do grooming there, they board dogs and have long runways and play areas.You can stop in and weigh your pet. They have a store. Oh yes they do have examination and x-ray rooms too. It's a little town of its own.

We have all wondered who the master is as we walk and clean up after their royal "hindness" and then carry his "business' in our little bag.

You can't make a mistake in getting a dog. It will change your life.

Of course if you don't want to change it, enjoy your time alone, coming and going when you wish, reading a newspaper and not having to put it together first, wearing slippers without holes in them, stretching out on the floor and getting up and going to bed when you choose.

Oh and if you do get a puppy make sure you know how big he'll get. Take my advice and do as I say not as I did.

Do I often wish we hadn't gotten Hogan? Yes! Would we ever get rid of him? No! We love the monster.

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