A Dog for My Dog

All my life I’ve looked at people with multiple dogs and thought, why? Why would anyone want twice the shedding, twice the vet costs, twice the mess? Then I bought my first dog, and I discovered just how needy dogs are. 

John says dogs have owners and cats have staff. He’s not wrong. Cats live their own lives, granting their owners—uh, excuse me, staff—access during certain windows. No one knows when these windows open, including the cats. But at those magical times the cats allow humans to shower them with attention. But not too much attention. 

Dogs, on the other hand, crave attention all the time, from anyone and everyone within their eyesight. Honestly, it’s exhausting! As Sadie ages, she’s content to lie on the floor beside me while I work, or on the couch between us. With Ruger, we have twice as many animals commanding our attention, but we’ve adjusted. We each claim a dog to lavish our attention, then switch, so everyone’s included. We strive to be equal opportunity owners. 

With a baby (canine or otherwise), there’s little downtime. In fact, having a puppy reminds me of motherhood, when toddlers ran on full steam until they collapsed. After an all too brief rest, they leaped out of bed recharged and ready to exhaust themselves and anyone around them. Our kids are all grown up, in their twenties and living their own lives. They sucked out all our energy during childhood, taking it and my favorite pots and pans when they left home. Now we don’t have enough energy for this puppy.

Sadie’s no help—she’s just like us, preferring the couch to a five mile hike in the woods. Play tug of war? Forget it! The only thing that gets Sadie on her feet is food. Hmmm, much like someone else in my house, but I won’t mention names.

“Jann, maybe Ruger needs a playmate. You know, someone his own age.” Yes, that sounded like a possibility. Unfortunately, we’re fresh out of kids and so are our friends and neighbors. The nearest dog park is forty minutes away, and we can’t fit a doggie playdate into our lives. For people with no energy, we sure have busy social calendars.

“Jann, what if we got another puppy? You know, a friend for Ruger. They’d keep each other company while we sit on the couch and watch television. Or read—maybe they’d keep each other so busy there’d be no time to grab our books and chew them up.” The idea started to make sense.

Except a third dog was crazy. No one needed a third anything. Think about it! 
A third helping? Ugh, that’d make my stomach explode. A third wheel? Nope, never a good thing. A third eye? According to the Hindu religion, a third eye is an invisible eye providing perception beyond ordinary sight. Hmmm, that would have come in handy when the kids were young. Now it just sounds creepy. No, a third dog fell into that same category—unnecessary and weird. But something at the back of my mind (my third eye perhaps?) told me it could solve our problems.

“Jann, I found a chocolate Labrador Retriever, seven months old. Look at these pictures!” And the rest is history.

I tell everyone we only have two dogs—Sadie and Ruger. That other dog? No, Rebel is Ruger’s dog. As I’m finishing this column, I can look down at my two sleeping bookends—Ruger to my right and Rebel to my left. I sent them outside for an hour to play, while Sadie and I enjoyed the air conditioning. They came in and collapsed on the floor, after drinking a gallon of water. Sometimes a third something is a good thing.

Jann Goar Franklin graduated Russellville High School in 1985 and lives in Grand Cane, Louisiana. Jann also writes books, which are for sale at www.jannfranklin.com. You can reach her at jann@jannfranklin.com