Sunday, June 8, 2014

That special bond: Why I needed a dog

Azzedine Downes
Published: Sunday 8 June 2014

Article image

We know it immediately when we look into the eyes of another species: There can be a special bond. Many people feel it when they experience a moment with their dog or cat.

For a few lucky people, we have experienced a bond with a creature as magnificent as an elephant, a rhinoceros, a whale, a dolphin, or an ape.

This submission is from my friend Martha Reynolds, who after an accomplished career with the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office began writing novels in 2011.

Her works include her award-winning debut novel, Chocolate for Breakfast, and the best-seller Bits of Broken Glass.
Look for more articles on this theme in the future… - AD

I didn’t grow up having a dog, or any pet.

In fact, I was apprehensive of those slobbering, jumping beasts well into adulthood. And life seemed just fine without a pet. I could come and go as I pleased, never one to rush home from a night out with an apologetic “I need to walk the dog.” No dog hair on my clothes, no early morning or late evening walks, and definitely no picking up poop.

Then, a few years into marriage and heartbreaking infertility, my husband looked up one morning over coffee and said, “We need a dog.”

Four words.

And he didn’t have to say anything else.

I knew.

We both needed a dog.

And from the first time that seven-week-old puppy was nestled in my arms, I’ve not been able to imagine my life without a dog in it. We had a four-month interval after our first dog died, for grieving and regrouping, but it wasn’t long before we knew it was time to bring another puppy home.

Over the past seventeen years, my dogs have provided me with companionship and entertainment. They have comforted me through grief and depression. She never lets me forget that she is present, ready to please, no matter what kind of day I’ve experienced.

We have a bond, certainly, a timeless bond that’s been shared between humans and animals forever.

The connection I share with my dog has shaped and enforced my love for animals everywhere. I cry over stories of homeless and neglected dogs and cats. I am sickened by the slaughter of African elephants for their ivory, and by the needless hunt and decimation of our whale population.

My love and devotion toward a twenty-pound spaniel whose favorite place to sleep is on my lap has helped me to see the larger picture of our responsibility to preserve and protect all wildlife, not just this one domesticated creature who rules my world. It’s a broad concept for a short blog post, I realize.

But we are the intelligent beings. 

We are the ones who make and enforce laws, and we are the only ones who can stop the inevitable extinction of certain animals.

So my little Bonnie is, in some respects, the child I never had. I am so fulfilled by having her in my life. Yes, more people treat their pets as family members than ever before. And while you’ll never see Bonnie dressed in a Halloween costume, she is cared for as well as any dog could be.

That’s the responsibility I take as her owner. She may be afraid of a fly buzzing around the room (yes, really), but I’ll protect her, from the fly and from anything else that would harm her. Similarly, I’ll consider what I can do to ensure a better future for all the other creatures that inhabit the planet.

It’s what we all should do.

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