Monday, December 26, 2016

Committed




I have several friends who do not have pets, mostly because, they say, they travel too much. Some of  them really do travel. Others travel less than I do. I think they just like the idea of being able to pick up and take off without responsibilities, even if they never really take off.

I used to be like that, more by circumstance than desire. As a seasonal worker, I was never allowed to have pets in the bunkhouses, and I was on patrol five days a week anyway. When I finally got a kitten, I thought this was the best of both worlds. I could still travel if someone checked in on the cat, and I had something fluffy at home that always wanted to see me, unlike the bad romances I found myself in.

Dogs? Meh. They were cute, but they required a real commitment. I loved the ones I inherited by marriage, but they weren't really my responsibility. I could leave them behind. My friends who had dogs had mixed bags. For every dog that obediently trotted after us, there was the Problem Dog, the one that disappeared, got bit by a rattlesnake, or lunged at other dogs.

Cale has a skin condition where he is losing hair. He looks pretty cute in his ruffwear jacket.
But then there was Ruby. Now I get it. Talking about your dog to people who don't like dogs is probably as irritating as those who talk about their kids to childless people. But I do love having a dog on the trail. It bridges the gap between solo and accompanied. There are times I don't feel like taking anyone along, but don't really want to be completely alone.

Not that there aren't issues. Yesterday, on Christmas Day, foolishly left leashless, she bolted and was nowhere to be found. We traipsed the back streets to no avail. I decided to drive around in hopes of spotting her. Flashing red and blue lights ahead plus dodging cars led me to believe she had been spotted. Here came my puppy, cheerfully cruising Main Street.

"Dog in Winter Shadow"
"You know, this is a fifteen year commitment," a friend said when I got a kitten a couple years ago. A dog is even more of a commitment. For years I was bad at commitment. I couldn't even commit to a town, much less a husband or an animal. I think back to what a former bad romance told me: "I'm just wired this way." At the time I felt despair because our wires certainly did not cross. But now I know: people can change. I may no longer be my footloose self, but I have a lot more love.

Dogs don't pose.

19 comments:

  1. Sweet! Except for the escape. :0

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    1. She was a BAD GIRL. But at least when she saw me she came running. I think she got lost!

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  2. I share your feelings Mary, our pups are our kids since we chose to not have children. I've had pets and animals all my life, from dogs and cats to horses and cows and most every farm animal there is. I've loved all my pets but believe me you can have that special one out of all that forms a deep bond with you. That was my sweet Abby girl and when her time was done on this earth she took a part of me with her. We still have her brother and a nephew and we still love hiking and backpacking and doing everything with them it's just taking awhile to get over that empty spot where there was 3 it's now just 2.

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    1. Sorry to hear about your Abby, that is the only problem. Our pets don't live long enough.

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  3. Dogs are such great hiking companions. I miss my Bear terribly...he was the best hiking buddy. I'm glad found Ruby and she was unharmed. She is a darling!

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    1. I didn't realize how fun it was to hike with a dog. They are so happy about everything. Hope you can have a new dog if you feel ready for one.

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    2. Does she "hike responsibly" off leash in the backcountry, or still in training re all the intriguing things to explore (and sometimes shouldn't)?

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  4. As my Lab dog grows older I often think about not getting another dog. I grew up with dogs, but because I was young never really understood the commitment involved. Now that we own a kitty we have experienced how easy it is to leave on vacation without the worry of daily potty breaks. I love that freedom. Although I also enjoy having a dog with the kids and I at my mom's cabin. Little extra sense of security I guess. Every once in awhile I catch myself pondering getting another dog, and the kids keep asking for another one. My heart just isn't into the idea. Maybe someday my heart will tug me in that direction again. Enjoy Ruby! She will be your best hiking partner.

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    1. I think the work increases exponentially with the amount of pets you have. We have five, and it can be quite challenging. I wouldn't get another dog right now, as you said, it's nice to have that freedom. I love the puppy, but I am also glad she is getting to a more responsible age.

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  5. The jolt of the run, the disappearing act. Now you can also understand how challenging it is for parents to loosen the leash. I remember when I got one of my kitties I said this one will be an inside/outside kitty. As soon as he started to climb the fence, I changed my mind really quick. That busy street just on the other side of the fence brought me back to reality. My Koontzy was my special one. He was with me for 19 years. I miss him, his antics and cuddles. In his old age, he was a lot of responsibility.

    Consider yourself lucky. You've got Ruby and the right hubby. You live in an amazing place. You find value in your job. You're rich in so many ways. ENJOY your new commitment. Congrats! Does that mean you're an adult now?

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    1. Ha. I have been an adult since I was 21. I have to laugh when people use "adulting" as a verb and act like it is a bad thing. I do consider myself lucky, until I talk to my friends who don't have to work. There is always something, isn't there? I do enjoy this sweet puppy.

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  6. I'm glad you have found such a sweet companion in Ruby. Never had a cat or dog myself, but been pet sitting over the holidays for a really playful big dog. Can almost see the draw but definitely don't have the space in my life now for that kinda commitment. Maybe someday...

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    1. Yes you have to be in the right place for sure. I have to say, I probably wouldn't want to do it as a single person. It's nice to turn over the dog to another adult sometimes.

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  7. I wish my kitty could go out on the trails with me. It is wonderful to have a buddy when I get home, though. :)

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    1. She is quite the traveling kitty though. I did see someone backpacking up Mount Whitney with a cat in their backpack once!

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  8. No pets in our household, but I do see how much they mean to my friends. I just love these images.

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    1. They do mean a lot, although life would be cleaner and simpler without them!

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