As I told you in a previous post, I had to put my beloved Homer down last May 16th. Of course for a very long time my heart was broken and I shed many, many tears. In a way it was fortunate that we were in the middle of the Alaska trip because we were constantly on the move and I kept busy and couldn’t wallow in my sadness. As soon as I left him in the vets office the only question was “when” would I get another dog and never “if” I would get another dog. I love dogs so much there is no question I will always have one
I’ve given some thought to why I love dogs so much and why my life is so empty without them; after all, they are a lot of work and problems and they can be very expensive. Why am I in such a hurry to add that burden to my life?
The answer is simple; I’m broken and not good with people. For some reason that I don’t understand, I’m not able to make deep, intimate connections with other people. I’ve had many failed romantic relationship and two failed marriages. Even though I try to be a caring, giving person, it seems like most of them end up with her either not liking me or being mean to me. I’ve never had really long term or deep friendships with either men or women. For example, I’ve lived in Alaska all my life and when I was there last month there wasn’t anyone I wanted to look up and spend time with except my son. I guess I’m just not a people-person; but I am a dog-person! Dogs offer me the unconditional love I can’t seem to find in people.
It’s easy for us to say the reason we love dogs is because they love us unconditionally; but many people will tell you that dogs aren’t able to love, they are just using us like we are using them. I don’t know if that is true or not but I do know they are never mean to me; they never act like they hate me and wish I would go away or die. I also know that much of the time they ACT like they love me and they almost always act like they are very glad to see me and want me around. It’s true that sometimes they are indifferent to me, but they never reject me and never hate me. For that reason, there may or may not be a woman in my life, but there will always be a dog in my life! I don’t seem to be able to connect with or love people, but I am able to love a dog.
I’ve also learned that I need to care and sacrifice for someone else. For some strange reason, meeting the constant needs of a dog are not a problem for me, instead, they bring me joy. And make no mistake there are sacrifices to be made. They require:
- Time and attention: they need to be watered, fed, walked, groomed, played with and taken to the vet.
- They cost money: they need food, toys and medical attention.
- Occasionally the make a mess you have to clean up: destroying things, pooping, peeing and throwing up.
- They interfere with your travel plans: you can’t go where it is too cold, too hot, National Parks or where you have to fly.
- They are probably going to die before you, breaking your heart.
When you look at those things as negatives, I can certainly understand why some people don’t want to have dogs! But I don’t see any of them as negatives, I see them as making me a more fulfilled, complete human being.
I believe that the need to sacrifice and care for others is just as basic a human need as air, water, food and shelter. Without them, we wither and die; sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly, but we still suffer, shrivel up and die. When we fail to love and sacrifice for another person, we may not die physically but we will die on the inside in our heart and spirits. Because I’m not good with people one-on-one, I express my caring and sacrifice to people on this website where it is mostly confined to the cyber world and usually doesn’t become physical. During those times I get to spend with readers and it becomes physical interaction, I’m able to do it short-term as long as I can always get enough “alone” or “me” time. Like I said, I’m broken.
But just like humans need to nurture others, we also need the physical act of touch and interaction with others. Because I’m not good with doing that with people, my dog becomes my substitute. I pet him and in return he craves my touch and depends on me. I have always found that the act of caring for my dog was every bit as much an act of caring for myself; as he thrived, I thrived. As I’ve said so often, by determining to make Homer’s life the very best it could be, I also made my life the very best it could be.
And that just wasn’t on the physical level. Every time I petted him, sacrificed for him and sent love to him, I got it fully in return in both a tangible and intangible way. Loving and caring for him was very much like loving and caring for myself. I got more out of it than he did! So I longed to have another dog as soon as possible. However, I still had a busy fall planned and getting another dog would complicate those plans.
So when we got back to Jackson, Wyoming and I moved back into my van, I had mixed feelings; on one hand I really wanted another dog but on the other it was a little bit impractical. I decided I would simply let go of it and if the right dog came along I’d gladly take him, but I wasn’t going to force it to happen. If it was meant to be, it would occur organically and naturally. And of course it did!
The day before we were moving on and leaving Jackson we made one last trip into Jackson. We were driving around a part of town we didn’t normally go to and it just happened to catch my eye that there was a Dog Rescue holding an adoption event in the backyard of a home. Taking that as a sign I asked Judy to pull over and I would jump out and go look at the dogs; she would park and come join me. I’ve been to adoption events before and I hadn’t had much success looking for a dog because the Dog Rescue organization has such strict standards that being a Full-timer and living in a RV wasn’t acceptable to them. So the first thing I did was find the person in charge and told her my story; I lived in a small RV and was leaving soon so they couldn’t inspect my home or follow up with future inspections. But that the dog would spend nearly every day of his life living free in a National Forest or BLM desert land. Fortunately the lady in charge had the good sense to see that while it was unconventional, it was the best possible life for a dog so she relaxed the rules for me.
Right away they showed me a dog I would have been very happy with. I have to tell you, that is very unusual. I’ve been halfheartedly looking for a dog for the last few years so Homer would have a friend in his old age and I had never found a dog I thought would work really well, but this one would. But then the lady in charge said that they had even a better dog for me and to take a look at Rowdy. She explained that Rowdy was just the opposite of his name, that he was the most mellow dog she had ever seen and got along with everyone and other dogs very well. So I went to look at Rowdy. He was much smaller than the first dog I looked which is a good thing when you live in a van! I’m guessing he is around 25-30 pounds and he is the perfect size! So I knelt down to get to know him. He was so loving and affectionate and extremely mellow that my heart went out to him instantly and I had a deep knowing that this was the dog for me! So I took him! I didn’t like the name Rowdy so I changed it to Cody, a name I’ve always loved for dogs.
We’ve been together for a little over two weeks now and he has not disappointed me in any way. He is very loving and affectionate, fits perfectly in the van and has a very strong desire to be close to me and to please me. That’s about all you can hope for out of a dog. In many ways he reminds me of a smaller Homer. He has all of Homers many good qualities but he also has Homers one bad quality; he has an extreme hunting and chase instinct. Just like Homer, when he sees or smells any kind of game he is off like a flash chasing it. It’s frightening to have him that out of my control, but I adapted to it with Homer so it is easier for me with Cody. I want both Cody and I to live as close as we possibly can to a wild state and this is just part of him being a wild thing.
He is only two years old and he is a smaller dog so we are going to be together for many years to come. I can’t wait to see what kind of things they bring us!