December 29, 2012 by hookershorde
For years, I’ve thought about the proper name for my role in the lives of animals. Last night, I wedged my body between three dogs and a cat on my bed while Faith, the Bernese Mountain Dog, snored like a helicopter under the bed. I was careful to not disturb anyone as I wedged between pillows, blankets and poodles.
Settled, I thought about a piece I read from a Facebook friend about her role as a DogMom. The title was more treasured to her than her Ph.D.
I’ve struggled to define my relationship to dogs.
Thank you, Dr. Ricke, for identifying the correct name for our relationship to dogs.
We do not own dogs. We are fortunate to accept stewardship of our furry four-legged companions.
But, it’s more than simply taking the responsibility to feed and care for them.
* * *
Dogs have been my partners for 37 years. After a visit to the Humane Society, my parents gave me my first dog, Fluffy, a poodle-terrier-Maltese mix for my fifth birthday.
As an adult, my home has held Gorbachev (a Samoyed), Midas (a Golden Retriever), Booker T. Washington (a Cockapoo), Gus (a poodle-mix from a puppy mill) and, Mr. Sunny Sunny Bun Bun (a senior toy poodle with Cushing’s Syndrome).
Gorbachev chewed up the emergency brake in my brand new Subaru Outback, nibbled on my wedding shoes and scattered five-pound bag flour in my living room. When diabetes settled in, he became disoriented. He was embarrassed when he had accidents in the house.
Midas was perfect. Cancer settled into his chest. We spent his last day at Sundance under Mt. Timpanogos eating bacon.
It’s true that I can’t foster dogs. They become my family.
As I type, I’m wedged between Mr. Sunny Sunny Bun Bun’s bum and the edge of the sofa. The sofa is covered with old sheets. The three poodles are nibbling on giant marrowbones while Faith, the Bernese, gnaws on hers near the front door.
Last fall, I installed a $1,200 custom dog door. It had to be custom built to accommodate a 90-pound Bernese and an 18-pound portly poodle.
Next to fire sits a basket overflowing with stuffed toys that squeak and a dozen or more marrowbones.
When the dogs aren’t chewing fresh marrowbones on the sofa, it’s covered with fleece blankets and towels. Gus prefers to eat his meals in the corner of the sofa where he can see everything around him.
In his restaurant, The Tree Room at Sundance, Robert Redford always sits at a round table in the corner. That table allows him to survey the entire restaurant while, at the same time, being surrounded by his friends and family. That’s what Gus does.
Shortly after Gus arrived in our home, I returned from a dinner out to find a feather pillow pulled apart. I figured Gus started it, Faith joined in the fun, while Booker looked on with disdain. For months, I vacuumed up feathers. But, the important thing was that Gus started acting like a dog.
A few months ago, Faith helped herself to an entire bottle of Copraban off the kitchen counter. The chamomile in it kept upset her tummy. We spent the night downstairs so she could get outside to poop neon stinky poo.
With Cushing’s Syndrome, Mr. Sunny Sunny Bun Bun can’t keep up on the morning walks. So, he rides in his stroller or snuggles into his sling next to my heart.
My alarm rings at 5:00 am. While my coffee drips, I feed four dogs a mix of kibble, green beans and smashed sweet potatoes. I mix a thyroid pill into the Bun Bun’s, put eye drops in Faith’s eye, and, this week, give medicine to Booker to keep his back from hurting.
The pockets of every jacket I own are filled with treats and poop bags. Under my bed is carpeted with mohair (well, really it’s more hair—Faith sleeps under my bed and sheds).
Spray bottles of vinegar are kept upstairs and downstairs just in case someone has an accident.
Messes can be tidied up. . . candles can camouflage the scent of wet dogs . . .fur can be vacuumed . . .sofas can be replaced. . .money can be made . . .
But, having a pack believe in you is everything.
Being a DogMom is a role to relish.