Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Love Me Love My Dog

You da MAN!

Growing up in my house the 1950s in Clairton, PA was different that growing up elsewhere. We had rules that we did not challenge. One had to do with television sets and the dangers they posed. Of course we were not the first on the block to get a TV or even the second. But when we finally did get the brand new Sylvania TV with Halolight (a muted light that surrounded the TV screen) the rule went into effect - Do not sit closer than six feet from the screen or it will ruin your eyes.

Another rule had to do with Coca Cola. We were forbidden to drink any pop (that is Pittsburgh for soda or soft drink) especially Coke. The reason? Clair Benedetto up the street drank coke and she had stomach problems. It did not matter what other issues were involved or what the nature of the stomach problems might have been. If Clair had stomach problems and she drank Coke, that was enough to ban all soft drinks from our environment. Of course, whenever we went to our grandparent's home, the pop flowed freely.

A third rule was no dogs allowed. I'm not sure why this rule was in place. We did not know in the 1950s that children were allowed to ask questions. They were given rules and had to obey them. End of story. So we did not have the luxury of having a dog in the house, but the Benedettos up the street had several over the years. I remember Pippi especially, a small brown dog.

It was from that frame of reference that once on my own I was almost never without a dog, and more recently a cat. When I married Mrs. Forgot a half sheep dog, half fence-jumping poodle named Lassie came with the deal. Lassie was smart and obedient. She rarely barked except when the water heater began to make noises. We were protected from any wayward water heater that might plan to break into the house and cause us harm, Lassie saw to that. She also loved to play soccer, nosing a ball around the outside perimeter of the pool.

But at age 15 she began to slow down. It was clear her life was in its twilight when she no longer barked at the water hearer heater. One evening after dinner, as was the custom, I let her into the back yard to do the things that are done after dinner. When she did not return after her usual 15 minute break I went out and found her unable to stand. She had apparently had a stroke of some sort and one side of her body would not respond. Try as she might, her left two legs would stand but her right two would not listen to the commands of her brain. I took her to the vet and tearfully said my goodbyes. It was the most difficult thing I ever had to do.

Since then we've gone through the life cycle of two other pets and era always causes reflection. When they are puppies or kittens they are so full of energy and mischief. As they grow they become loyal, fun, and unconditionally loving. It matters not how difficult your day has been, whether you're upset do to road rage on the way home, or whether the holiday bills have put you in a foul mood. When you walk into the house, regardless of the day's traumas, you are met by one who treats you as though you are the most important person in the world - the only one who matters.

It is no wonder that our pets are now treated so well that they are living longer than ever. In fact, over the past 50 years or so the life expectancy of domesticated animals has nearly doubled. Pets now get better nutrition, better care, and have a better health plan than most of their masters. Vets today are like lawyers. You hate to go to them but they are necessary in keeping your life in order. Vets have a much better deal than other doctors. It is true that most doctors, with the possible exception of pediatricians, get bitten by their patients, but pets rarely complain, rarely cry, and hardly ever sue for malpractice.

Even hotels are getting into the pet act. More and more accept pets and many upscale hotels offer spa treatment for the pets as well. What a life! A little blogging music to go with our animal post maestro... do you know "How Much is That Doggie in the Window?"

Dr. Forgot

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