I’m not sure where the phrase, “man’s best friend” came from. Perhaps it was meant in a wider view of the term “man” as in huMANkind? I am an animal lover; I have always had pets of some variety. Even when I lived in an apartment that didn’t allow animals I got a hamster. Though, a hamster is really not the same as a cat or dog. When I was only a few months old we got a dog. It was a running commentary that he and I shared the same birthday. At seven years old my first kitten, and since those days the house, as I say, has almost always contained the warmth of these animals.
I now have two large dogs who are 75 pounds of love wrapped in a fur coat and slobber. They sit at my feet while I study, read, or write. They are persistent in urging me to get my butt out of the chair and get some fresh air with them. They guard the house ferociously against crows, ravens, and stray cats; with wet kisses against people. We had a pack of three, the third was a hundred pounds of intimidation, though, if he knew you, he would simply wiggle in excitement. We lost him over a year ago; he was the one who would lay under my desk for hours while I studied and worked on papers. It was his domain. With his still-felt absence the other two have had to step into his role as the alpha and take turns keeping my feet warm while I work.
There is a debate over which is better, cats or dogs? I believe it depends on the circumstance and both have their role. For myself, I will always have dogs, and, if I lived somewhere else perhaps cats too. Where I am now there are too many cats roaming the neighbourhood; so many that I wouldn’t be able to let my cat outside, and that hardly seems fair. Well, that, and my dogs have gained a disdain for cats, which torment them through the fence. Dogs have an ability to sense when their owner is upset, or stressed, and they believe that their love will solve anything and everything, and sometimes it does. When I pushed myself to my limits to get through courses in a timely manner I felt like I was falling behind and my resilience was breaking., I would inevitably feel a nose push through my arms and demand attention; I would feel a paw reaching out for me, landing on my knee and begging to be held. Their eyes would pout and they would look at me as if they could take the stress for me they would. As if they wanted me to just be happy. They would let me hug them and bury my face into their fur, curling their chin around my neck and hugging me back: how can you stay upset when this happens?
Their excitement for me to join them outside in the yard, even for a few minutes, and throw their toy is infectious, and that short break away from the desk, away from stress, would be enough to rejuvenate and reignite the fire within to get the project done, to get through the road block, and carry on. There are downsides to dogs, sometimes they bark and disturb the neighbours, the most notable one though is the yard in spring time, when all the poop that melted through the snow and gathered all winter reveals itself, but these are things I gladly tend to. These are things that I don’t bat an eye at because they mean my house is full, my dogs are happy, and by taking care of them they will return the favour tenfold.
Deanna Roney is an AU graduate who loves adventure in life and literature.