How I learned to stop worrying and love the mutt.

It's no secret I love cats. But I do consider myself solely a cat person? No. The truth is I love all of God's creatures (except for spiders and squirrels, but that's besides the point). I especially love cats, true, but my love for dogs comes just as close. It's just it took me a while to learn this love.

In my defense, my first experience with the  Canis lupus familiaris was not a happy one. You see, before I was even a twinkle in my mother's eye, my mother had already had her first baby -- a baby with big brown eyes and a tendency to pant when she got overexcited. Her name was Dolly and she let me know practically the second I came out of the womb that I was not welcome. In fact, my mother loves to tell me about the time(s) when Dolly would stand at the foot of my crib on her back legs just so she could lean into my crib and bark at me. (Gee, thanks, Mom.) To be perfectly honest, I was never that nice to Dolly, either. As soon as I got out of the crib and was fully mobile, I immediately set upon taking revenge on this mean mutt.

Lest ye think I am calling Dolly a mutt as a disparaging slur, she actually was a mutt. I don't know exactly what breeds she was mixed with, but I have to admit she was pretty. She was of smallish to medium size with an orange-red coat and fox-like ears. Her snout was a bit foxy, too, in that it was long. Her eyes were not fox-like though, but those that usually belong to cute yappy dogs, those big brown eyes that practically puddle over with affection. Only hers didn't puddle so much as glare.

Back to the revenge part. How did I wreak my vengeance on this conniving canine? The only way a little girl can -- by dressing Dolly in my doll's clothes. It was poetic justice, in a way, given her name and all. I can still remember the frilly pink frock with matching bonnet into which I stuffed Dolly, her aggravated yips and yowls bringing my parents into my bedroom, upon which my mom immediately started scolding me. My dad knew humor when he saw it, though, and he ran to go get the camera. I still wonder where that picture is... I promise to post it if I find it.

By the time I was well into my teenage years, Dolly and I had made peace of a sort. She no longer stood on her back legs and barked at me. And I no longer dressed her in my doll's clothes, comedic gold though that was. But we were never exactly friends. There was never any love lost between us, and it was understood that yes, Dolly was my mom's first baby, as Mom liked to say. I didn't lose any sleep over this and any lingering resentment had long since faded when Dolly passed away in my 15th year. She was also 15. This was something I never thought about growing up -- Dolly had been born not long before I was and so we were like quasi interspecies twins, if you will. But seeing Dolly fade away at 15, my same age, was a sobering experience that made me question my seeming immortality.

It also made me look at Dolly herself in a different light. She and my mom had the perfect dog-human relationship. They were truly best friends, never far from the other. When one was down, so was the other. When my mom was happy, I remember seeing Dolly's tail wag in sympathetic joy. I realized then and there that this was something I wanted for myself. I wanted my own so-called "man's best friend." I wanted my own pet.

To this day, I've never had a dog like that. My cat Tigger comes close, but I think one day I'd like to get a dog. I yearn for that kind of kinship. We have had one other dog over the years, a Doberman Pinscher that we wound up having to donate to the local police as a K-9 after she decided to try and take a chunk out of my forehead, but that's a blog post for another day... Somehow that experience didn't scare me off liking dogs, though I will be honest and say I probably won't be getting another Doberman Pinscher in the future!

As for what kind of dog I would like, I am not sure. I will probably go to the pound and try to rescue a little puppy. For sure I would want a puppy. Breeds I like are the  Papillon and the  Cockapoo (the latter of which isn't a pure breed per se but rather a mix between a Poodle and a Cocker Spaniel). But honestly, I know that the dog I select will probably be based on what I feel when I meet him or her for the first time. Even if she's a mutt like my mom's dear Dolly.

The End

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