Paws for thought on going to the dogs
By Susan Frick Carlman firstname.lastname@example.org January 3, 2013 10:42PM
Updated: February 5, 2013 6:12AM
Samantha was a splendid house guest.
Oh sure, she glared understandably whenever Olive violated her generous sense of personal space. And while she is certainly bright and pleasant to be around, she’s a tiny bit needy when it comes to being paid attention.
Sam visited us for several days over the holidays, relishing the meals we served up and providing gracious company. We even observed her birthday during her stay, celebrating an even decade since she came into the world.
Of course, that makes her pretty old, the equivalent of about 70 years if Sam were human. On average, Labrador retrievers don’t usually celebrate more than about 13 birthdays.
Our own vivacious Olive, on the other hand, is a relative pup; she won’t turn 6 — er, make that 42 — until March. She knew which dog was the alpha, and it wasn’t the one in the mirror.
There’s no question it’s our best friend, the species that produces these two distinct creatures and their fabulous fellow fur-bearing, four-legged folk.
My son and his bride just expanded their household by four paw prints. Ozzie is a spectacular little Rottweiler who won’t be little much longer. He also enlivened things around our house during holiday visits. Like human babies, puppies have the remarkable power to reduce pretty much anybody to a silly ball of mush.
And if you’re a dog person, you probably share my view that a house isn’t a home without at least one canine under its woof — er, roof.
So it was for the Plackowska guys. Matt and his dad, Artur, went through an unthinkably horrible experience last fall, when they lost 7-year-old Justin Plackowski, Matt’s little brother, to a grisly crime that also took an equally faultless 5-year-old girl and two dogs — and sent Matt’s mom to jail, accused of committing the heinous acts.
The dog that was Matt’s was named Tootsie. She was a dachshund.
“She was really, really special to us,” said Matt, 20.
So one of the holidays’ absolutely brightest spots was the arrival of a new Tootsie in their household, courtesy of Naperville Petland. The puppy, a miniature chocolate dappled dachshund, is bringing some comfort now to a household that will never again be what it was until barely two months ago.
“It’s not a trade-in for the other one,” Matt said as the tiny dog nuzzled his neck. “But it lets her live on.”
One of the cruelties of nature is that even under the best of conditions, our furry friends really don’t live very long. A decade and a half is a pretty decent run for any dog or cat. That’s less than 20 percent of the likely lifespan the U.S. Census Bureau now assigns to a newborn homo sapiens.
This seems unjust to me. As a golden retriever, Olive probably won’t be around for more than another half-dozen birthdays or so.
The two goldens who lived with us before her, Emma and Dave, both moved on to the big dog park in the sky before they’d turned 14. Each time, we mourned the inevitable and held off on filling the vacant positions for as long as our respect for the departed, and our broken hearts, would allow.
As I’ve often told anyone who will listen, when I’m queen of the universe, dogs will live exactly as long as their people. Until that happens (where the heck did I put that crown, anyway?), we can’t do much more than cherish these really, really special members of the household.
And Sam, if you’re reading this, come back for a visit soon.