True story — It’s a dog’s life
We have all grown up with simple sayings, some of which have stuck with us throughout our lives, such as, “A watched pot never boils,” “A rolling stone gathers no moss,” “Never look a gift horse in the mouth,” and my favorite, “It’s a dog’s life.”
While I understand the first three, the last one is not quite as clear. I believe when it originated, “It’s a dog’s life” was meant to indicate a difficult, loveless life filled with stress, uncertainty, doubt and a daily struggle.
My wife and I have been dog owners since shortly after we were married. My wife made what seemed to be a simple request to add a dog to our household. While I wanted to grant her request — being newly married, I knew it was important to demonstrate control and establish myself as master of the household — I clearly explained why it was impossible for us to own a dog.
After about 30 minutes of intense discussion, and some crying, we started to search for a dog. That was 59 years ago, and to this day, I was sure she would change her mind if she saw me crying, but to my surprise, it didn’t work.
Since that day long ago, we have had a series of English Springer Spaniels that were not only great personal companions, but also excellent bird dogs as well. My wife did all the dog training, and under her guidance, we had some of the best hunting dogs in the area. Our dogs never had an outside kennel, never ate table scraps and were more like a hunting companion who lived in the house than a hunting dog.
That brings us to our current Springer, Abbey. Abbey is like the child some people have after their first three children graduate and leave home and then, “Surprise!”
The bird population has long since been reduced through disease and loss of
habitat, and with our advanced age I felt sure our long string of dogs had come
to a halt when our last springer, Misty, passed. But just as in real life, “Surprise.”
My wife could not stand a house without the pitter patter of little feet and so Abbey came to live with us two years ago. As you might guess, it was my wife’s idea. Although we did not train Abbey to hunt, she has all the natural instincts and might have been one of our best dogs. She loves being out, is as quick as a heartbeat and would rather jump over anything she could easily walk around. She is great with people and children and is always looking to play.
My wife cannot move without Abbey being right behind her unless she is cleaning, ironing, cooking or performing any household chore, then Abbey knows it is work time and she heads for one of her several beds for a quick nap. When the work is over, she suddenly reappears for some attention.
If my wife and I come downstairs dressed to go out or run some errands, Abbey curls up on the couch.
If we appear in outside work clothes, she beats us to the back door.
When my wife fixes her food, Abbey goes into the dining room and lays down where she can watch the process. She does not jump or bark and, when her food is ready, will not eat until given the command — OK.
As active as she is during the day, when evening comes, she is a master at sacking out and once she is asleep, which normally takes about 20 seconds, she is immobile. You can push her and pull her and she shows no sign of life.
The saying, “It’s a dog’s life,” came to me the other night when I walked into the family room late in the evening and found Abbey stretched out on my couch. Although I put a couple of pillows over her and tried to push her over, she remained motionless, pretending to be dead. If that’s a dog’s life, I could use some of that.
John Kasun writes from his Duncansville home and lives with his wife, Sandy, and her dog, Abbey, and truly appreciates when they let him lay on the couch.