The Making of a Dog Lover

I am and have always been a cat person. In fact, for several years, the students in my school dubbed me the crazy cat lady and insisted on buying me cat-themed Christmas gifts just to see me scowl. Inside, though, I was okay with it. I identify with cats. They like sleep, sunshine, and have a propensity to be chubby. They are loyal to those they love and couldn’t care less what the rest of the world thinks. They are my soul animals.

Dogs. Not so much. I’ve always seen dogs as stinky, drooling, and not self-sufficient. They jump on you in the summer and scratch your bare legs with rough nails and scare the hell out of you on a bike ride or run by lunging and barking in what can only be a ferocious attempt to tear the flesh from your bones. So, yeah, dogs also kind of scare me.

Why on earth then am I now the doting, proud owner of an adorable whippet mix pooch?

Well, he’s almost four, cute as hell, has mostly stopped drooling, and enjoys sleeping in my bed most nights, despite the fact he has a really nice bed of his own.

No. That’s not the new dog. That’s my little man. The dog- (cat-, bird-, baby goat-) lover. The future veterinarian. The boy who has opened my eyes to so much I had ignored, disliked, feared, or overlooked before.

You see, it turns out kids smell, drool, have accidents all over the house, and need constant training and attention, too. Having one has taught me you can love despite all these things. You can see beyond the messes and stresses to the love and pure joy someone or some-dog brings into your life. Realizing this with my son, and seeing how happy he is in the presence of animals, opened me up to the possibility of becoming a dog-person.

That said, I knew it wasn’t right to get a dog for a child. Children can’t be responsible for the full-time care and love an animal needs and deserves. Nope, if we were getting a dog, I had to have my heart in it too. I did some soul-searching and realized I could face my fears, get more exercise, and be forced outside even in the cold weather if I embraced the idea of a canine in our house. So began the search for the dog that would change my mind about the species.

After oodles of Google searches, a couple bites, some heartworm treatment, a month of waiting, and multiple trips to Connecticut, that perfect pup arrived. Jessie is as perfect as a dog could be for us. She loves Ian, demands snuggles and belly rubs, pulls me along so I up my running pace, and is far kinder to the cat than the cat is in return. She also smells at times, has accidents, and hogs my bed (thankfully, she’s not a drooler). But this crazy cat lady loves her despite it all. I love her loyalty, her playfulness, and her gentle ways. I submit to doggie kisses, willingly pick up her poop, and research the best diet to keep her healthy and with us for as long as possible.

You could say Jessie converted me into a dog lover. Or you could say my little man helped me make the transition. But really I think they both just taught me to love more openly, more broadly, and more deeply — dogs included.

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