ChildDrenched: Are Dogs Ruling the World?

Families with children can benefit from the love of a dog. My family is missing a dog after the loss of our dear family pet, Jasper, nearly a year ago.

The short answer to the posed question is YES. Clearly, in my home and across America, it seems that the essence of dog is the way in to almost everything. As I approach the anniversary of writing my blog with entries about many emotional, adoption-related topics, no entry has surpassed the readership I received when I posted about my dearly departed yellow lab, Jasper, last summer. And it seems that everywhere I look-- in real life, on TV, and around the internet-- people include their dogs in almost every aspect of their lives.

Jasper was the perfect family dog for his entire eleven-year life. As a puppy, he quickly learned that nipping at my two sons (then ages seven and nine) was not going to make them play with him more, and he learned to sleep alone in his crate when the whining did not successfully bring me downstairs each night to free him. At one year old, he was the perfect displaced youngest child when my newly adopted, infant daughter entered our world as he protected, warmed and entertained her.  He learned how to make us smile more often, throw the ball for longer periods of time, and offer him treats which he never tired of. He enjoyed watching television with the family reacting positively to dogs, horses and elephants (and ignoring cats and rodents) when they appeared on the screen. His passing nine months ago has not only been painful because we all miss him terribly, but since then, I have been tormented daily by my entire family to get another dog.

My stubborn resistance to getting another dog is simple: We will not find another Jasper.  His personality was so wonderful, calm and compassionate; I cannot imagine that we would luck out twice. No other dog will fill the void that was left by Jasper who was just as happy when we arrived home late for his dinner or after dark, having forgotten to leave lights on for him. My family is convinced another dog is the solution to our sadness and will help us heal after the loss of Jasper. I am not at all convinced we are emotionally ready for another dog, although the intrinsic benefits of a dog, especially for kids, are amazing.  In addition, even though they all fervently promise to care for the dog themselves, I am the one who will most often feed, train, pick up after and worry about a new dog. On the other hand, now that my daughter is in her tween years, perhaps a dog would help her learn responsibility for something other than her iPod.

As I look around online at other blogs, I notice the pictures of dogs used to accompany posts, which may or may not be about dogs. It has become apparent that readers of all kinds like to see, hear and read about dogs, whether they have one or not. Case in point, Heather B. Armstrong’s marvelous blog features her adorable, tolerant mutt Chuck: http://dooce.com/2013/02/04/attention-people-of-the-internet/. What other creature would tolerate a pile of cooked noodles on his nose for a picture?

Before my sweet Jasper passed away last May, it never occurred to me to feature him in my blog to build my readership.  After he left us Memorial Day weekend and I wrote about him for the first time, my blog readers had more comments and passed along my URL to friends more than with any other post before or since then.  Even topics about adoption, parenting, family issues, holidays, shootings and personal brushes with death have not compared to the popularity of my post mourning Jasper. Had I known, <read more>

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Bowie Thelonius February 15, 2013 at 01:58 PM
Definitely time for another dog. It won't be Jasper, but it will be its own sweet self.
Kathy Bottone February 15, 2013 at 02:11 PM
My wonderful dog Nelly passed away 4 years ago in my arms. She was only 6 and the lymphoma that took her away had only been diagnosed 7 weeks earlier. It broke my heart because she WAS irreplaceable. But, along came Boo a month later and she filled my heart in a different way. She is her own personality and she is as loving and sweet and crazy as Nelly but in her own way. They are all different and they are all loving and they become what you make them by the way YOU love them. And, if you can, please adopt a rescue dog...you will be saving a life!
NJarhead February 15, 2013 at 02:35 PM
I had to put my lab down after 14 years. It was indeed tough and I said I never wanted to experience that pain again if I could avoid it. Then a friend shared "The Dogs Last Will and Testement" with me and I immediately saw the flaw in my thinking.My Wife (of all people) decided we should get another dog after 8 months (apparently I'm a miserable cuss without a little buddy). I was extremely nervous. Then extremely excited. It's been 2 1/2 months and I still couldn't be happier. Best of luck to you Patty. I look forward to hearing a similar story from you in the near future.
Bowie Thelonius February 15, 2013 at 08:57 PM
Yes, please consider a rescue. My best friend is a rescue. So many great dogs just waiting for a new home.
Maryann Campling February 15, 2013 at 10:29 PM
I am a grief counselor with Pet Friends, Inc. We telephone counsel people who are dealing with the loss of a pet (or pending loss). We are often asked about getting another dog (or cat, etc) and there is no "one size fits all" answer. Having had dogs and horses my whole life, I have dealt with loss more times than I can remember, but I feel that it is a wonderful testament to your pet, to let another into your life, knowing that you will have to say goodbye again....the years of love and joy they bring is worth the pain....at least it has always been for me. Adopt a dog, Patty...Jasper wants you to! FYI....PetFriends, Inc 1-800-404-PETS Phones are staffed 24/7


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