Dog’s Eye View: In the eye of the beholder
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder … She’s got a face only a mother could love … He’s so ugly he’s cute … But I love him.”
I hear these phrases often and believe there’s more substance to them than a simple offhand remark. The key phrase is “ … but I love him!”
Even though my dog is a purebred, he’d be ruled out as a show dog, because he’s not quite perfect according to the published breed standards. Those standards have nothing to do with how much I love him or how talented he happens to be in the things I’ve taught him. When I meet people who share their lives with a mixed-breed dog, they sometimes feel they need to apologize for “just having a mixed breed dog.” Herein lays the beauty and incredible adaptability of our pets.
Have you ever stopped to really think about the many roles your pet plays in your life? What things does she do that you’ve not seen other animals do? What spot does she fill that no other one can fill? Have you grown personally as a result of being the steward of her life?
When I think about the relationship between a rancher and his stock dog, I see a serious business relationship. His dog is needed and appreciated for work on the ranch. A visually impaired person relies on his trained guide dog for mobility and companionship. Certified therapy dogs can open the door to a whole new life for many people, and assistance dogs can give a person a sense of freedom and self-determination not previously possible.
People who live alone find the presence of a pet a barrier to loneliness. Not only is it a warm body to relate to, but it’s also a reason for going on. It’s been shown that many seniors live longer and happier lives when they have a pet to care for. Walking, feeding and cleaning bird cages or aquariums can create a comfortable routine to count on.
As a child, I met an unforgettable disabled lady named Maude who spent hours in her rocking chair teaching her Boston terrier, Maggie, to say, “Mama.” Maude fed Maggie mints and scolded her when she incorrectly snorted and woofed “oh ma” instead of “mama.” Maggie was rather rotund, but there was no convincing Maude to cut back on the mints. And when Maggie said, “Mama,” there was no mistaking the word.
I knew a little girl with a black-and-white, short-haired cat named Slidie. She trained her kitty to do tricks just as someone might do with a dog. He would salute to the singing sound of a trumpet, and he would shake hands and jump through her encircled arms.
Slidie lived to be 17 years old and was a source of pride and accomplishment for this shy child who had not found success at school. He was a real pal whose value could not be calculated.
When I see people 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.”
Each animal plays a unique role in the life of it’s owner. Scaled or furred, hooved or feathered, their beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.
Sandra Kruczek is a certified professional dog trainer at Total Teamwork Training, LLC with more than 30 years of experience.
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