Thursday, December 15, 2011
Things I've learned about dogs recently
1. During my battle with bronchitis in the weeks after Thanksgiving, I discovered that our pitbull mix, Ozzie, will stay next to me no matter how much I cough, hack and sweat on him. He's my first dog ever and this is his third month with us. I'm amazed by how this animal behaves. He likes being near the humans no matter what, actually in physical contact. Ozzie amazes me with his sociability. I really never knew anything about dogs before and I'll probably spend the rest of Ozzie's life trying to understand, or at least accept, their uniqueness among the animals.
2. We totally saved Ozzie's life. The more I read about shelter dogs, the more it sinks in that Ozzie was in a very bad situation: not only was he living with a hundred other unhappy dogs in less than ideal conditions, but he has the main traits that make dogs UN-adoptable: he's an adult, he's not a purebred, he has pitbull in him and he's black. He was doomed! (Black cats and dogs take the longest to get adopted.) Bob and I totally did our good deed for life by taking him. Ozzie needed a home and Bob needed a dog, so it worked out.
3. There's a long literary tradition of using "black dog" to refer to depression. This is ironic because I suffer from depression and the idea of inviting in its icon into my home is as amusing as it is disturbing.
4. I'm beginning to genuinely like our dog. I had a lot of doubts for the first couple of months, including during my illness when I suspected that he had brought me a bacterial infection (humans can't transmit illnesses to dogs, but they can transmit them to us!). But now that we're all healthy again, I'm finally beginning to relax. Ozzie is still an alien to me, but he's not so bad, plus he makes my husband 100% happier. The little dog, as I often call our 45-pound pitbull mix, is beginning to rub off on me.
5. Purebred dogs are damn expensive and "puppy mills" often create health-compromised puppies who aren't socialized or trained or anything. Pet stores are often stocked with puppy mill dogs. I'm beginning to agree that there's no reason at all to get a dog from a pet store or breeder while there are millions of animals being killed in shelters every year because no one wants them. Shelter dogs need you and they're cheap. Many shelters have puppies and purebreds, at least periodically. Of course, mutts are great because they're unique, often are more even-tempered and don't have the health problems purebreds have. Heck, I'm a mutt as most Americans are.
6. Pitbulls usually live 10 or 12 years, but sometimes they make it to fifteen! Ozzie is between 3 and 4 years old, so I might be in my late 50s by the time he finally kicks off. This isn't good news to someone who's not good with long-term commitment, although I've gotten better since I got married. Okay, here we go...