Four years ago, my partner’s eldest nephew began calling me a “Crazy Dog Lady”. It wasn’t meant teasingly, but derisively, as a judgement… an insult. It was accompanied by the complaint that “all I ever talk about is dogs, and all I post about on social media is dogs”.
You may ask yourself, How did I get here?
I am the author of five books about dogs. (see the margin at right). When you write a book, you don’t just write it and expect that people will discover it. You have to promote it. When you promote something, it involves building a certain reputation. I write a pet column for the Examiner and I have this blog, which is devoted to dogs, and I’ve written articles about animal welfare for animalsvote.org and pet pardons news. My yelodoggie artwork is all about funny dogs…and I founded the Lost & Found Ohio Pets service to help reunite lost pets with their families.
You may ask yourself, where does that highway lead to?
Sure, that means that among all the “normal” stuff on my Facebook feed, like comments about my day, or movies or what’s happening in the world, my feed is often peppered with links to my articles, or calls to action against animal abuse, or information about pet food recalls, or pet health issues, or just pictures of my dogs. This does not a “Crazy Dog Lady” make.
And anyway…isn’t my phone number the one he calls any time he has a pet care question?
Same as it ever was.
I was so offended by his comment that I took him off our Christmas card list. Why should we send him a copy of our annual hand-drawn card featuring our pets celebrating the holiday, when he clearly can’t appreciate it?
Letting the days go by…
I’ve been accused of treating my dogs like children, but I honestly see that as more of a badge of honor than a criticism. After all, the more science learns about dogs, the more apparent it is that they are like children. They are as bright as any toddler, and because they are completely dependent on us, it means they stay babies all their lives. That means it’s our responsibility as pet parents to make sure their physical (food, water, shelter, safety, hygiene, play, medical) and emotional (love, encouragement, comfort) needs are met. It means teaching them, and seeing that their lives are enriched and that they are intellectually stimulated.
If that means moving to a cabin in the woods so we’re not violating any quantity or noise ordinances…
You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack…
If it means driving a vehicle that’s larger than I prefer so there is room to cart all five dogs around…
You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile…
If it means keeping our oldest dog dressed in onesies – because she is ancient and thin and often shivering: in traction socks – because the bare floors have become a challenge in her old age: and in diapers – because I’m not always attentive to the frequent potty calls, and sometimes she can’t really remember where they are supposed to happen – then that’s what it means.
After the money’s gone…
If it means denying ourselves the extras, like new clothes or evenings out, so we can care for them properly – then that’s what it means. I’d do the same for a child, if I had one.
You may ask yourself, “Am I right? Am I wrong?”
All of it qualifies me as Dog Mom, but I don’t think any of it qualifies me as “crazy”. Just where is that line though?
Last weekend, our critical nephew came for a visit with his wife and toddlers. Dogs, wife, and toddlers all managed to interact and coexist. Indeed, the only one who had a problem, was the nephew.
At one point, I snapped leashes on two of our dogs to take them out, and the children began to follow me out the door. That’s when I turned, and without a second thought, held up my hand and told the kids to “STAY”.
You may say to yourself, “My God! What have I done?”
That was when I saw my foot firmly planted over the line to “Crazy Dog Lady”. But is that really such a bad thing?
Once in a lifetime?
Lyrics to Once in a Lifetime: Writer(s): Mike Curb, Tina Weymouth, Phoebe Esprit, Jerry Harrison, Chris Frantz, Brian Eno, Jerry H. Styner, Guy Hemric, David Byrne
Copyright: Index Music Inc., E.G. Music Ltd., MCA Music Ltd., Warner-tamerlane Publishing Corp., WB Music Corp.