Artist’s Lane: ‘Love me, love my dog’

By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

I call him “my Precious.” There is a bit of inside family humor in that name. Previously, he was known and prayed for by his more common name, the prodigal son. 

For years, I prayed, “Bring home my prodigal son.” And God heard me. Admittedly, I now pray, “Remind me why I wanted my Precious home?”

When a grown son comes home, things change. He steps comfortably into new shoes and grabs the reigns like an old pro. 

When my prodigal son moved back from the Philippines, he said, “I’m bringing my two golden retrievers with me.” He was testing the waters and saying, “Love me, love my dogs.” 

We didn’t know where he would end up once back on U.S. soil. The sensible thing to do was to try to talk him into leaving his dogs behind. I quickly realized that welcoming him with open arms meant making room for the addition of paws. 

I have come to accept that to a dog lover, it’s a dog’s world. And that is not isolated just to family. Friends call to say that they want to come for a visit. If not on the tip of my tongue, it is certainly on the top of my mind: “Please don’t bring your pets into our home … if you do, leave them outside.” To that all I can say, they always do, and they never do. 

I know all too well after years and years of trying to come between my Sweet Al and his beloved Whiskey, don’t! People and their pets are bound for life. And no matter how comfortable I am in being called heartless on this particular topic, I know that you just can’t separate a man and his beast. 

So, yesterday, “my Precious” told us his friend wanted to come and stay in the guest house for the weekend. And, by the way, she is bringing her dog with her. 

I said to him, “You know how I feel about guests bringing their animals into the house. They mark their territory, chew on things and make a mess in every room.” 

Famous last words, “She will just keep the dog in a crate.” 

Right, and the next thing I know, Pooch is lounging on a down duvet surrounded by a lumbar and neck roll pillow. 

I had to rehash the day’s conversation with “my Precious” to clarify how I felt about the dog topic. My son’s response, “The country is sick and on fire and you’re worried about a dog?”

Evidently, I wasn’t going to win this argument.

As much as I go around and around with my Sweet Al about his dog, when it comes to traveling, she stays put. We make arrangements to board her or ask family members to come over and care for her. 

Dare I ask the same of others, and I have committed the unthinkable. 

I know all about Lassie, the famous collie, the television star of the 1940s who ran to the rescue every time Timmy got in to trouble. To be truthful, I’d settled for an alert bracelet. 

This house has never been void of animals. My Sweet Al is a dog lover and so are three of our four children. From the day I married Al, he has always had a dog. One dog is OK, but when each child brings their dog with them and invites guests to do the same, I ask myself, “who is paying the property taxes anyway?”

Final brushstroke: It is not enough that I have to deal with My Sweet Al and his dog, Whiskey. Now, I have to put up with “my Precious,” his dog and his dog-loving friends. So, I have crafted a new plan. You can come and stay, provided you and your guest pay to send me away for a spa weekend. “Love me, love my dog” translated, “Let me escape, or go someplace else.” 

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This story was posted on June 29, 2020.