We’ve often heard the old saying “a dog is a man’s best friend”. As a child, I was never afforded the opportunity to have a pet. My mother and brother both had severe allergies to pets and my family spent most of my childhood living in rental apartments where pets would not have been permitted.
I had a batch of tiny red-eared turtles when I was a child, but let’s be honest: aquarium or terrarium pets aren’t quite as cuddly as a dog or a cat (they tend to die if you cuddle them). I used to spend a lot of my summers in my youth exploring rivers and brooks in Northern New Brunswick. There was never an outing where I didn’t manage to come home with some creature I found in the forest. And my father was totally on the band wagon. We used to collect crayfish, salamanders and fish from every outing. It used to drive my mother crazy, especially when a salamander or lizard made its way out of its terrarium.
As I grew into adulthood, the idea of having a pet evaporated with time. But i’ve always been fond of animals. In 2014, my wife and I moved to a small community in southern Saskatchewan where we purchased our first home. Through social networking, we learned of a local woman who was moving out of her home and would be unable to take her dog with her. There wasn’t much information about this dog, as it belonged to the woman’s ex-husband who had abandoned the dog when he moved away. The woman was moving into a rental property that wouldn’t allow pets.
When my wife Laura saw the post, she shared it with me, as this woman resided within our community. Our newly-purchased home had a large fenced-in back yard and it appeared as though the woman would be bringing the dog to a shelter if she couldn’t find it a home. My heart went out to the dog and I suggested to my wife that we take her in. Based on the photograph, we were under the impression that it was a reasonably small dog and we could manage her within our household. We contacted the woman and advised that we would take her.
When we arrived at the woman’s residence, we were shocked to find an 85-pound sponge of matted fur. Molly was a large dog, but so timid and came to us immediately. We still agreed to bring her home with us. I was on the job the day we picked her up, but I was able to bring her to my office and my co-workers took a liking to her immediately.
Once we got her groomed and checked out by a veterinarian, we brought her home. You know, most people don’t seem to believe how much heart a household pet has, but it became obvious in a very short period of time the Molly was so grateful to Laura and I for taking her in. She started greeting me at the door every time I came home. After a couple of months, she began running outside to greet me where we’d play for a few minutes before going inside.
One of the main issues surrounding Molly was that we had no information on her history. We had no idea where she was originally from or even how old she was. The veterinarian was able to estimate somewhere between five to seven years old. She was incredibly timid and seemed extremely gentle, but I had heard stories of rescued dogs turning on a dime, especially if their triggers are unknown.
When my son was born in late 2014, I was anxious about how they would interact with each other. Since Molly was in the household first, I worried she would consider herself the dominant one. I’ve also heard that since dogs are originally pack animals, they occasionally give in to their basic instincts and attempt to discipline human children by nipping or biting. There’s no need to explain why that would be an issue.
But very soon after we brought Nathan home, it became quite clear they would become fast friends. Just another example of how dogs have a special place within the family dynamic. Molly would spend her nights sleeping by Nathan’s crib.
These days, it’s difficult to imagine what life was like before I had a dog. Molly is part of our family, part of the household and Nathan considers her to be his “puppy”. Lately, he’s been hugging her a lot and saying he loves her, which is sweet. Everyone who meets and interacts with Molly mentions how timid and sweet she is, which often makes me wonder about her background and how she got to be that way. Distant sounds frighten her (thunder, fireworks, even the occasional passing bus) and she gets skittish, but she’s a prime example of her bark being worse than her bite. She’ll conveniently bark at passing dogs when she’s tethered, but will walk quietly and just sniff if we pass another dog on the street.
Dogs are a special kind of creature. They have so much love to give, and they do so unconditionally. Even when Molly makes a mess or damages something around the house and I scold her, she’ll come running to me with her tail wagging within minutes. Besides being a faithful companion, she’s also a teacher of sorts. Nathan is being taught to be responsible for feeding her, brushing her and giving her treats. Watching them play together is heart-warming (except when Molly chews on one of Nathan’s toys and a melt down occurs).
So, treat your dogs well, folks! They may live much shorter lives than us, but they give freely of their hearts for the time that they’re here.