A Long Story Short

Written by Mart Allen

martallenjpg-b71d96103834e49b_small Random thoughts on dogs

If you want to experience true love get a dog. No other living entity is capable of showing the loyalty, love and affection for humans that dogs do. And all they ask in return is board and room. Their capacity for devotion is unprecedented as a general rule in the animal kingdom. Unfortunately their owners do not always reciprocate with the same enthusiasm.

I am ashamed to admit I am one of those that are guilty of that sin, only arriving at that conclusion too late to do anything about past companions. Sure I took care of their every physical need but was too busy with my own pursuits to reward them with the same dedication they extended to me. The older I have become the more aware I am that it’s a universal fault that many people, men in particular share. The key word is, busy.

Too soon old and too late smart, being unable to see the forest for the trees and so on, are only two of the expressions accurately describing the situation. Men, since the beginning of time, were specifically charged with protecting and providing for the family unit. They were driven by the overriding necessity of insuring the family survival. While they were the bulwark in ensuring that end, their minds and physical efforts more often had to be directed to more demanding matters.

Older men do not have the same responsibility they once did as their facilities and situations change over time and they have more time to reflect on the past. I admit, true or not, lame excuse or not, that may have been my only excuse for not being more understanding than I might have been. The guy that came up with the phrase, hind sight is better than foresight may have had just such thoughts in mind when he coined it.

Dogs in every sense of the word should be treated as family members. Which leads me to the next conclusion, and that is how many are guilty of not lavishing enough affection and interest on the rest of the family as well. Far too many I am afraid. The thought arises that everyone should examine their own situations in that regard.

We have always had two dogs in our family as we now currently have. And we do treat them that way. I for one am valiantly trying to make amends for my past failings. One is an 8 year-old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon named Eika and the other is an 18 months old Miniature Schnauzer named Daisy. Daisy was brought into the family to assuage the hurt Eika experienced at the loss of her long-time companion, another Griffon named Dutch. She became so despondent and lethargic after Dutch’s death we became concerned for her.

Daisy came on board as a puppy and it took at least three months before Eika even pretended she was a part of the household. Shortly after her acceptance by Eika we learned Daisy had cataracts on both eyes. We were devastated not only by the thought of the cost but the possibility that nothing could be done about removing them. I am happy to report Cornell University Veterinary doctors were able to successfully remove the cataracts and she appears to see normally.

Daisy however has turned out to be a problem child. She is the feistiest dog I ever imagined possible. She is intensely jealous of any attention we give to Eika or any other dogs. I question just how well she does see considering the size of some of the dogs she is willing to challenge. I have fastened a short chain to the base of our fireplace and she is relegated to it to repose on her bed until she settles down. At first we questioned whether or not a new home with no other dogs might be better for her but the loving attention she craves from people and devotion she shows to us has won us over.

As a long-time owner of hunting and sporting dogs I have come to admire the spunk and tenacity she demonstrates. She embodies the true spirit early man needed and admired in a dog. She shows an indomitable attitude now as Eika has grown used to her mood swings and mercilessly trounces her in the snow. Undaunted she comes right back for more when the bigger dog tires of it and lets up racing around in the yard before stopping and once again ragging her around in the snow. Eventually they come back in the house exhausted and covered with snow.

Finally, although I may complain about how much trouble they put us through, I swear to return the love and devotion they show to us. We are family. The thought for the week and it relates to the gist of this column comes from Mahatma Gandhi: The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the manner in which its animals are treated.
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Mart Allen lives in Thendara and is a long time advocate for the Central Adirondacks, Central Adirondack culture.