Dog Blog

On being a pet parent. Not an ‘owner’

For their next trick, The Seductive Stella and Sherrif Simba would like to perform something they call: “We don’t see your name written on these seats, Mum!”

Simba started sitting, rolling and shaking on command when he was around three months old. My husband had put a packet of biscuits to good use one afternoon and taught him the basics of it all. To me it was amazing, not to mention a great source of pride, that my pup could do all of this before others his age (I assume) were even potty trained.

Stella joined the family shortly after and was soon copying these tricks as she watched him earn his cookies. The beauty of it all is that Simba, sly bugger that he is, doesn’t perform these tricks unless there’s a cookie, piece of chicken or a bubble gum wrapper to be got. Stella on the other hand, will come and insist on shaking even if it’s just for a kiss and a “Good dog”.

My puppies, now on the fast track to maturity, make every day an entertaining adventure. But there are still times when I feel like they could do with more training. It’d be a great party trick if Simba could balance on his hind legs. And how awesome would it be to wake up to Stella fetching our newspapers?

It would be even cooler if we could all go to the park and play fetch. But any pet parent out there will vouch for the fact that throwing a ball is much easier than prying it out of a dog’s clenched jaws.

I really wish my dogs were more obedient. For instance, it would be nice to have them get off my favourite spot on the couch when I come home after a long day. Even better, if they wouldn’t boop me in the nose or sit on my face at 6am in the morning.

Sure, obedience does come at a price. But most of the time, a packet of biscuits is a whole room away.

But then there are also things I don’t want to change about my dogs. Like the way Simba’s ears droop when I leave for work. Or the way Stella stands up on my hips when I return.

I also cherish how Simba snuggles up to me when I’m typing on my laptop. Like right now, for instance, he’s wriggled his way under my arm. Is that a typo in my copy? Sir Simba – the Grammar Pup to the rescue!

Sometimes, I feel like we just want our dogs give and give and give some more, but what do they get in return? Three square meals, a roof over their heads and a timely treat or two, I suppose. But is that enough?

What are we truly giving them in return?

For many of us, it’s easier to return a portion of a dog’s love than love them unconditionally. It’s imperative to us to have their unwavering loyalty even if we don’t reciprocate it in equal measure.

We seek perfection in our dogs. But our idea of said perfection relies heavily on how perfect the world thinks they are. It’s just like the skewered image of unattainable beauty that pollutes our billboards and magazine covers.

But looking into Stella’s gentle eyes and Simba’s piercing gaze, as if he sees through to your very soul, I know what I have in front of me is perfection.

So what if he runs off on his own every once in a while, and she barks up a storm at the streeties at 3am? They’re perfect just the way they are and I wouldn’t want to change all that for a bunch of impressive party tricks.

I can only hope that I will measure up to their standards of perfection someday. Love them back the way they love me… Be the wonderful parent they think I am, rather than the owner wishing they were the perfect dogs they could and should be.

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