Dog’s Eye View: On a cold winter’s night | SteamboatToday.com

Dog’s Eye View: On a cold winter’s night

I'm curled up on the couch with a book, wrapped in a quilt handmade by my brother. Lawrence, our little terrier mix, is snuggled behind my knees. The wood stove radiates warmth while the wood inside crackles and pops.

This is our first Christmas with Lawrence. It seems impossible that a year has almost passed with him wrapping us around his little feisty self. He's so cute and forces forgiveness from us when he's been "naughty."

For instance, having just gotten a new "jack rabbit" squeaky toy, he set it aside and picked up the Christmas toy we bought for our two kitties. It's an open plastic ball with a very mouse-like squeaking fur ball inside. My husband, Ron, had just commented how charmingly Lawrence was rolling it around on the bed when he later returned to the living room holding the chewed up remains of the toy. Through it all, Lawrence has a true terrier nature and would not be hindered in his quest to get to the mouse by some puny plastic.

Was Lawrence punished? No. It would have been pointless as the deed was done when Ron came upon the vacated scene. We will just have to get another one for the kitties and be careful not to leave it out where Lawrence can get to it.

I set my book aside and began to ponder about the many roles our pets play in each day of our life. What things can each one do that no other one does? What spot does our little guy fill that no other one can fill? I think about how I have grown personally as a result of being the steward of Lawrence's life.

When Ron and I still had our veterinary clinic, I was humbled by the elderly people who came with their pets. People who live alone often find the presence of a pet a barrier to loneliness. Not only is it a warm body to relate to, but perhaps a reason for going on. It's been shown that many older people live longer and happier lives when they have a pet to take care of. Walking, feeding and cleaning a bird sanctuary or aquarium can create a comfortable routine to count on.

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When I was a child, I met an unforgettable lady named Maude who spent hours in her rocking chair teaching her Boston Terrier to say "mama." Maude fed Maggie mints and scolded her when she incorrectly snorted and woofed "Oh ma" instead of "mama." Maggie was a bit overweight but there was no convincing Maude to cut back on the mints. By the way, there was no mistaking the word "mama" when Maggie got it right.

I knew a chubby little girl who owned a black and white short-haired cat named Slidie. She trained her kitty to do tricks just as someone would do with a dog. Slidie knew how to salute to the singing sound of a trumpet, shake hands and jump through her encircled arms. Slidie lived to be 17 years of age. He was a source of pride and accomplishment for this shy child who had not found success in the classroom.

When I see people (like myself) buying extras like doggie toys, catnip, seed treats or extra deep-sea divers for their fish tank, I can only smile to myself and think, "Yes, it is good to love something in this way."

I return to my book and savor the simple uninterrupted time I can spend with my scruffy little Lawrence. Scaled or furred, hoofed or feathered, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and in the heart.

Sandra Kruczek is a certified professional dog trainer at Total Teamwork Training, LLC with over 30 years of experience.