We aren’t a dog family. Rather, we weren’t a dog family – my husband has been clear that he is not fond of dogs, so that pretty much ruled it out for a long time. Twenty or so years into our marriage, our son – an only child of about 13 at the time – declared that he wanted a dog. My husband very logically told him, “If you’re willing to feed it, walk it, pick up after it, bathe it (etc etc), we can consider getting a dog.” This shut our son up right quick! He wanted a dog, but clearly not that badly.
I’d begged my own parents for a dog when I was 10, and we got one: she was wonderful, great, the most perfect dog ever! I’ve always had a soft spot for dogs, but with my husband not being so keen, I shelved that desire a long time ago. When our son started mentioning his interest, however, I started entertaining the idea…. realising full well that, if we did get a dog, I would be doing the lion’s share of the work; I had to be fully committed, if ‘we’ were going to get a dog.
As our son grew more and more attached to his computer and video game console, my husband and I tried to come up with ideas of non-screen activities that might draw him away from their siren-call. Even my non-dog-loving husband conceded that a dog might just be the companion that our boy needed. I’d go through cycles of allowing myself to get (inwardly) excited at the prospect, then talking myself down; getting excited, then talking myself down. Eventually I convinced myself, and my husband, that a dog was indeed the answer! I don’t think he believed that I’d actually follow through with it, but, short story long, here we are, a dog family of five months. Alfie is a mature six-year-old black Australian Kelpie Lab mix, rescued from a farm where his aging human wasn’t able to care properly for him, and he hasn’t got a mean bone in his strong, furry body. Even my husband concedes that he’s enjoying having him around more than he’d thought he would.
Reflecting on this new addition to our lives, it tickles me to notice, as time passes, the outstanding similarities between our canine companion and our son!
- Both boy and dog are organisers/corralers/shepherders of sorts: our son’s always been more interested in making up games and getting his parents to participate, playing make-believe carnival and being the carny who operates the rides, than simply partaking of the games & rides; Kelpies, by nature, are working dogs, often used on farms to herd sheep, and at the dog park we definitely see Alfie trying to corral the other dogs, overseeing them, organising them, sort of.
- When our son was little, we didn’t have to worry about him running away or losing him in public places because he was more afraid of losing us; similarly, Alfie has proven that he is not inclined to dart (hooray!!) and is quite willing to follow us, most of the time.
- Both boys are introverted, keeping to themselves pretty much, but love being with family: our son would still, at 14, rather stay home and watch a movie with his parents on a Friday night than go out with friends; Alfie could go out and play or hang around the backyard, but he won’t do it alone, preferring to go back inside when his people do.
- Both boys love food, especially junk food, which most frequently comes from my husband: when our son was little, whenever he heard his dad in the snack cupboard he wondered what he was getting for himself to eat (“Ms-Ms-Ms?” (M&Ms)) – and wanted some, too; Alfie has learned who the softie in the family is, too, and, while restrained, has an obvious presence near my husband’s end of the dinner table.
- One thing we’ve observed about our son’s personality is how he wears his heart on his sleeve: he’s very enthusiastic with his emotions, whether he be cackling over the Grinch’s reindog, Max, zooming down the snowy mountain or distraught at the prospect of Alice in Wonderland being lost in the woods; similarly, Alfie barks with apparent glee for the whole world to hear when we’re driving to the dog park for some play time!
Alfie is work, there is no doubt about that; and, he isn’t drawing our son away from the screens as we’d eagerly hoped he would – in fact our boy didn’t take to him very quickly at all, much to our dismay, but he’s come around a fair bit and seems to actually enjoy the dog, from time to time. Overall, though, Alfie is a great addition to our family and clearly seems to fit into our pack. In fact, thinking about my husband’s and my own personal tendencies,….. I’d say that he’s right where he belongs!
We’re taught in the Heavenly Doctrines that ‘like attract like’; perhaps that’s a bit of what we’re experiencing?
“…[A] natural atmosphere continually emanates from the body, not only from human beings but also from animals – in fact, from trees, fruits, flowers, and also metals. So, too, in the spiritual world… Every feeling of affinity or aversion has its origin from these atmospheres, and also all association or dissociation. Thus a person’s presence or absence depends in that world on these atmospheres. For similarity or harmony in character causes association and presence, while dissimilarity or disharmony causes dissociation and absence. Consequently, it is these atmospheres which cause distances in that world.” Conjugial Love #171 (emphasis added)