Puppy Love When You’re Not a Dog Person
It’s taken 40-some odd years, but my sister somehow managed to turn me into a dog person. I suppose it’s more accurate to say that I’ve turned into a dog person for my fur-niece and nephew. Bubba and Belle have managed to completely and utterly charm me, and I am absolutely smitten with the both of them. I’ve never been a big lover of pets. My sister, on the other hand, had wanted a dog forever. It was the only thing on her Christmas list for many years. And during all that time, Santa always delivered a dog…of the toy variety. As the technology allowed for more sophisticated, battery operated versions that moved and barked, Santa’s dogs improved in functionality.
My sister’s feelings of disappointment only strengthened her resolve to get herself a puppy one day. And when the day came that she was finally able to own a pet, she started with a bunny. Which eventually led to her having 5 bunnies over a number of years – 4 of whom lived together in this great big enclosure that took up a significant amount of real estate in her home. They were all cute, but pet rabbits are a lot of work. They poop a lot. So trying to maintain low levels of hair and hay and smells can get tricky. I wasn’t immediately drawn to the bunnies, but they chipped away at me. I could not get over the amount of mess they made, and the cleaning compulsive part of me couldn’t fully reconcile with this. In fact, I earned the nickname Dander from my sister because she was convinced I saw them only as 4 balls of dander every time I saw them.
Eventually, Junior got herself a dog. And while she had so much love for her bunnies (RIP Mr. Carrots, Wee Doo, Boo and Bailey – Misty is hopefully still enjoying life in California), nothing could compare to her love of her puppy. Bubba came into her life and she was overjoyed. She couldn’t have asked for a dog with a more sweet or gentle nature. He’s a German Rottweiler, and while I was initially scared out of my mind to meet him, he really kept bugging me to make me love him. Since he lived in the States, it’s not like I got to spend large amounts of time with him. The first time we met, he was full of puppy joie de vie. He was only starting his training so he would jump up and push his way into my face to ensure I could not ignore him. My sister would tell me that I should not engage with him and that he’d simply leave me alone. Which obviously had the exact opposite effect. The more I tried to limit my attention of him, the more he worked to make himself known to me. He was definitely persistent. Being around a big dog, especially if you aren’t well versed in dogs, can be quite intimidating. But for all of his size, Bubba was just quite playful and lazy.
They got Belle a few years later. Another German Rottweiler, who unlike Bubba, was generally full of beans and attitude. She was completely fearless and vocal as a puppy, and to this day bullies Bubba so she can get all the attention, even though he could probably take her down very easily given their difference in size. If you think walking into a house with one Rottweiler can be tough, try it with two. It’s an adjustment for sure. I’d only ever been able to spend a week at a time in their presence. So as we would just be getting used to each other, or rather, just as I was getting used to them, I’d leave to go back home. However, in late 2019 I was able to spend a more extended block of time with them. And it was then that I truly learned to fall in love with them. It was through them that I really began to understand how wonderful dogs can be and how they are able to provide therapy and comfort for you , even if they can’t utter a single word.
Finally now, in 2021, the dogs have made it to our home in Canada. I can’t even believe that I’m writing this, but I am so happy they are here. While they know no boundaries, are constantly pushing into my personal space, and produce a variety of smells and secretions that are not for the faint at heart, they have both genuinely managed to charm me. It’s been an emotional reunion here, and the dogs have been so loving and supportive in ways I could have not imagined. They really have a sense for when we need comforting or some laughs and they give this so unconditionally.
Having said this, their visit hasn’t been without some challenges. My mom, who I thought might benefit a lot from having them around, seems intent on only loving them from afar. It’s too much for her and while a human might have taken the hint and given her some space, for the dogs, failure is not an option. They are determined to wear her down, even subtly. They both approach her cautiously, but they do still approach her and do anything they can to get close to her. We may run out of time on this trip, but I’m hoping we get another chance soon. It may have taken me a long time to get here, but I’m awfully glad I did.
(Read: Sister, Sister)
I’d like to say I fall into the “sandwich generation” – and while I have no children of my own to care for – I find myself falling somewhere in between caring for my mother and caring for my sanity. When I am not working, I have the honour of helping look after my amazing mother, who has suffered 2 strokes in the past 11 years. Being a caregiver is not for the faint of heart, and if I am being honest, it can be a crappy club to be a member of. I have fallen down more times than I care to count through this journey, but while channeling my incredible stubbornness, strength (both of which I come by honestly,) and several F-words (Faith, Family, Friends and Food), I keep getting back up. IG: @Coolman_Eh