Having a pet has always been a social delineation that is a source of contention in my world. Growing up, my family had always welcomed a four-legged friend, but I also remember neighborhood friends whose families swore of any animal dependents. Something about shedding, or pet maintenance like feeding, walking, cleaning up after them, etc. I was regularly disturbed by how definitive some parents’ position was on a pet. I also wondered if that contributed to the sometimes inconsiderate nature I saw in the friend from those families.
My grandma had a cat in the house, and dog in her backyard. My mother was open to having her boys care for a dog of our own. Out of several dogs that we had over my youth, one was particularly interesting. He was both my comforter when I was stressed or needed a friend, and the bane of our existence when he would snarl because he didn’t want to come from under the bed where he hid, or had food that he didn’t want to return to us. Having that perspective helped me to begin to understand several concepts about life, such as the beginnings of negotiating with someone with a difficult attitude, developing compassion and a sense of responsibility for beings in the space around me, and even learning to interpret a rudimentary language that was being communicated by my furry best friend.
Because of this history, I was glad that the family I created agreed to adopt a dog. She was a puppy when we got her. She’s the sweetest dog we could’ve gotten, and hopefully has imparted my kid with some of the heart lessons that I learned when I was growing up. Our dog has only tried to “assert” herself once when she was with us a few years. Apparently, there’s something about a dog being under a bed that emboldens them, for some reason. She growled as I commanded that she vacate that spot for her own safety. When she made this move, I had a flashback to my furry “frenemy” I mentioned above. She was *-not-* trying to be an alpha dog in my house! Out of frustration and, well, anger, I lifted the bed off of it’s frame a few inches. This show of strength had the desired affect. She raced from under the bed like there was an earthquake! She also knew I caused that “earthquake”, and decided not to growl or snarl at me again. Since then, the only time I hear my dog’s vocals is when strangers come near her family.