The Love for Our Pets
article by Cindy G. Foust
Happy 4th of July, BayouLife readers as we begin our crossover to the “other half” of the year that includes months filled with back-to-school, football and big family holidays. I wish time would slow down, but instead, it continues to march on during these dog days of summer. By the way, does anyone in our BL community know what in the cat hair “dog days of summer” really means?
When you think about it, what does a dog have to do with summer? Or what exactly is a “dog day?” If you don’t already know the answer, I want you to be able to say you heard it here first, that “dog days of summer” actually refers to the sultry part of the summer when Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the sun. Oh, okay. Nah, I still got nothing.
But speaking of dogs, have I ever shared with my readers that I am not a dog person? Most of you know, because I write about it frequently, that I grew up a country girl. That’s right, I could shell peas and shuck corn in the Olympics. My family always had animals roaming the family compound, like we were Old McGist and his farm…horses, pigs, chickens, dogs…you name it, we had it. One time, we had this crabby old rooster, that I was so infatuated with, I chased its tail every time my granddaddy would let me go with him to feed it. Tragically, this crabby ole rooster didn’t appreciate me chasing it and pulling its feathers out, so he defended himself the only way he knew how…he “jumped me.” Mental image: he jumped on my head and started pecking. The story goes, that my granddaddy had to slap me in the face (I promise, it was the only time he ever laid a hand on his oldest granddaughter), because apparently, I was screaming at the top of my lungs, looking like a child possessed. I have, of course, no independent recollection of the incident. Is anyone else wondering how this column got hijacked by a rooster when it started with a dog? Okay, redirect.
I was saying that my family has always had a dog, an outside dog, but we always had a dog for a pet. There was Lucky, Smokey, Ralphie, Harley, Tiny and Rambo (that one chased the furniture delivery man to the top of his truck)…the list goes on and on. But sadly, I never had a bonding experience with a dog, like many people do. Doesn’t everybody in the world love dogs? Well, except me. Well, until now.
I’m not really sure why I’ve never shared the passion for dogs. I was never bit or chased by a dog, or have any other incident that might create this aversion to the four legged canine companion. To be honest, I’m not sure you need a real reason, I just never had the burning desire to have one.
Last March, I wrote a column on the fear of dogs my little girl had; that the terror she experienced, and the fear she had of any dog, any shape or size, haunted Scott and I daily. I got some really sincere and empathetic feedback after that column. As I suspected, lots of children experience these same fears. I’m not sure when the turning point came for my daughter, but shortly after my sister and her husband got a small lap dog, Angel Grace began a slow, gradual transition from: a dog terrorizes me to a dog sort of terrorizes me to a dog licked me and I didn’t have a “rooster fit” to I want my own dog. Say what?
I never dreamed my husband would allow her to have an indoor dog, so I quietly discouraged her every time she would ask. At this point, I have to admit, I was secretly glad Scott’s OCD house cleaning fetish would prevent us from ever having an indoor dog. To make matters worse, my best friend, (who will remain nameless for this column, but has a dog that everyone in the Twin Cities knows and loves, Lucy Lou) treats her dog like the Princess and the Dog, She sends her to the dog spa, and she debones rotisserie chicken for her and she buys her ice water from Sonic. I’ve never been to a spa and I’m a person! (I am however, turning 50 next month, and should anyone want to get me a gift, I might like a facial).
There were many days that my “best friend” would share these outrageous stories, and I would make so much fun of her. I was about to do a doggy intervention, (for she and her husband, my other best friend, who had also been converted into thinking Lucy Lou was the new Lassie of the Twin Cities) after she bought Lucy a Sealy Posturepedic mattress, when something really special happened…Scott buckled.
You dads out there know what it’s like when your little girl puts the full course press on you for something they really want…the little girl usually wins. I will save the story of how we got our little puppy for another column, because it’s one for the books all by itself, but it will suffice to say that my same best friend, who I had made fun of so many times, found the newest member of our family for us.
And so it would happen, on Christmas morning, 2015, that Santa delivered the most treasured family gift we could ever ask for, he brought us Annie Lou Foust. Our daughter’s joy brought all of us, including her 18-year-old brother, to tears. I have to say that watching my children interact with Annie Lou and realizing just how much she loved and trusted us, well, it’s a better love story than a Harlequin Romance.
With no warning at all for this writer, my heart changed. I went from making fun of people who take selfies with their dogs, to being the one who takes selfies with their dog. Or being the one who spends an hour picking out just the right doggie treats. Or sending my puppy to the dog spa, because, well, she deserves it for being so perfect. This little dog, who is sitting at my feet while I write this column, has licked and loved and jumped her way into this tired old writer’s heart. She’s so smart, readers, that I am even thinking of applying for her to get into Doggy Harvard.
My little ‘babylove” inspired this column, but more importantly, she has me mindful for other people’s dogs! So much so, that I will remind readers that it is summertime and it gets really hot outside, so remember: 1) dogs can get heat stroke really easy; 2) watch their little feet on hot pavement; 3) never, ever, ever leave your dog in a parked car; 4) cool water will help them cope with heat, and even give them cool treats; and 5) use a fan to keep outdoor dogs safe from heat stroke.
That’s it…I’ve gone from being the rooster hypnotist to the dog whisper…and no one who knows me can believe it. But in the backseat of my best friend’s car, driving from Jonesboro, Louisiana two days before Christmas, wrapped in a beach towel, shaking and scared, two little brown eyes stared into mine, and the bonding experience I had always wondered about, happened. The same brown eyes that are staring at this writer as I close this column, grateful that we have the unconditional love of this precious little dog to enrich the walls of our home. Hang on readers, there’s more Annie Lou stories where this one came from.