We knew the risks when we picked up that puppy from the Scottie rescue place four years ago. She’d been found wandering the streets of Fort Worth with no collar or tag. On the ride home, she licked all the sunscreen off my face, ran several figure-eight laps inside the car, and claimed our hearts–as she would any dog toy ever brought into our house (and she wasn’t an only dog). For a few years of charm and companionship delivered in a wonderfully photogenic short-legged package, we’re now paying the price of heartache after her sudden death from a rare blood condition.
And we’d do it again, but our house is dismal just now. Friends and co-workers who’ve similarly loved and lost offer sympathy, appreciated almost as much as distraction. Last night, our TV’s screening of Moonstruck lightened the gloom.
We answer all sorts of questions at the reference desk, and here’s a difficult one: Having once experienced bereavement of a cherished animal, why do people voluntarily adopt another pet?
As usual, the library offers multiple-choice answers to what only seems like a rhetorical question. Books like Animal Rescuers: A Chapter Book and Where the Trail Grows Faint: A Year in the Life of a Therapy Dog Team document dogs’ capacity for enhancing human lives in very practical ways. Jon Katz, author of The Dogs of Bedlam Farm and other popular titles, offers ample evidence of meaningful dog-human interaction. DogFriendly.com’s Lodging Guide for Travelers with Dogs and Pads for Pets: Fabulous Projects for Your Furry, Feathered, and ‘Phibious Friends, along with internet resources like austinrescue.com denote another factor–our need to reward companion animals by promoting their quality of life.
Thankfully, some books even capture the sheer glee that canine characters inspire. James Thurber, New Yorker founder and columnist (and associate of multiple Scottish Terriers) frequently wrote about the dogs in his life. I’ve just checked out The Dog Department: James Thurber on Hounds, Scotties, and Talking Poodles. Thurber’s hilarious anecdotes and cartoons will cheer our household. Dog Department even features tiny sketches on the page corners that you can flip to produce an animated cartoon. As much as I recommend all dog lovers borrowing this book someday, I really need it now–and hope you don’t.