The Dog Days of Summer in Woodbury

My son asked. I felt guilty. But I was under no illusion that our pet’s primary caregiver would yours truly.

As of this month, I’ve been a dog owner for three years. That may not sound impressive to many Woodbury pet lovers.

But, it’s huge for me. I swore I’d never own a dog. They smell. They slobber. They shed. They’re expensive.

I’d see my good friend walk her dog through all kinds of weather, steaming bag of poop swinging from her leash-free hand. Better her than me, came to my mind.

Then my son began requesting a pet. I felt guilty. Like I was robbing my kids of a childhood rite of passage. But, if I were going to cave, it would be for a dog, no other pet variety. I didn’t want cat hair or litter boxes or rabbit hutches or birdcages. And absolutely no rodents or reptiles!

I was under no illusion that our pet’s primary caregiver would be none other than me.

Yes, I could teach my sons to feed a dog, walk a dog and pick up after a dog. But they’re still children learning responsibility, and they’re gone at school for hours every day. I would choose a dog that suited me.

Since I’d always had a fear of dogs, I knew I wanted a small breed that I wouldn’t be afraid of and could feel confident about commanding. I knew I wanted a female dog that would be less inclined to mark territory. I wanted a dog that didn’t shed, because I’m not a fan of regular housework. (Although the trade-off can be increased grooming expenses.)

We ended up with a black and white cross between a Bichon Frise and a Japanese Chin. I didn’t look for that particular cross. Just saw her and fell in love with her energy and googly eyes. We named her Betsy Johnson.

I’d done my homework on house training and found it less difficult than anticipated. We took her to puppy kindergarten at All Breed Obedience, where we learned useful tips for dealing with common canine behaviors.

But, as with teaching children, consistency counts. And we’ve been inconsistent at corralling all bad behavior, specifically jumping with NBA-like skill on visitors and the poor FedEx guy and barking with vigor at those who dare walk past our yard, especially the neighbor’s imperious cat.

Otherwise, I wouldn’t trade our hairy little beast for a pet-free life.

She is fun loving, mostly well behaved and a part of our family. We got her for the kids. But I can’t imagine life without a dog even after the kids are grown. Research shows dog ownership is good for your health, especially for older adults.

The simple act of repeatedly getting up to let the dog in and out is a great amount of activity for someone like me, a writer, reader, sitter. A brief walk with the dog clears my head.

A dog’s presence calms anxiety, lowers cholesterol and high blood pressure and helps with feelings of loneliness or depression. Some data even indicates that a dog’s dirt can improve immunity.

So, maybe you should adopt a dog for your kids or your health.


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