Going to the dogs

Last week I was staying at my parents’ place and, as usual, I scanned their overflowing bookshelves for something to read. A bright yellow hardcover caught my eye and I soon found myself immersed in a marvelous book: How Dogs Think by Stanley Coren (www.stanleycoren.com).

Dr. Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia is, according to the book jacket, “a recognized expert on dog-human interaction.” What impressed me most about this book was Coren’s ability to boil down dog physiology and psychology in a way that I not only understood, but that often made me laugh out loud!

I have always loved dogs (in fact, maybe I subconsciously married a guy named Doug because of it!). We always had dogs in the house growing up: first there were Mickey and Mindy, who looked like shaggy Benjis; then Nika, an Akita/shepherd cross; Peggy, a Basset Hound/Black Lab cross; Dayna, a German Shepherd/Great Dane cross we had to put down last summer – I’m still not over it; and now my parents have a beautiful Canadian Inuit dog named Mikka who is most comfortable when it’s 25 below zero Celsius outside.

You can’t tell me there isn’t some resemblance between my husband and my parents’ dog!

These dogs were my friends, my protectors, and often my living dolls. Poor, patient Mindy often endured my clipping bows to her fur and putting bracelets around her ankles. I definitely felt a connection to these wonderful companions and often preferred them to human company – after all, they didn’t care if your hair was washed, you flunked an exam, or said anything interesting!

Now that Doug and I are planning the move to Wyoming we’ve started talking about getting a dog. It will have to be what we’ve come to call a ‘starter dog’ (i.e. not more than 60 lbs and can fit in the back of the Mini Cooper). It will definitely be a pound puppy and we’re hoping to find something black, or at least dark-haired so that we can coordinate its shedding with Guinness-the-cat (who I’m sure will absolutely LOVE having a puppy around).

In the event that it’s not feasible to get a dog in Wyoming, I fully intend to march over to one of the local shelters and offer my services as a volunteer, dog walker, etc. I figure, not only is it a great way to meet people, and get some exercise, but I now have a whole bunch of Dr. Coren’s ideas to try and help socialize the next generations of pups!

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