Monday, March 1, 2010

Shiny happy things

The always thought provoking and entertaining Noble Savage tagged me for for this one, the shiny happy things meme.

 I am meant to tell you about at least one thing that never fails to put a smile on my face.

While wondering what to write, I thought about the many things that make me happy, from the mundane (shopping at Target, Battlestar Galactica, a good curry) to the more profound (my dear friends, family, and of course my lovely kids). Then I arrived home, and was greeted as I am every single day with a big wet lick and a frantic wagging tail, and I realized there is just one thing in my life that absolutely always makes me smile. The dog.

I'm dedicating this post to Geekyhound, the often ignored inspiration for my blog's name. The hairdog herself, who is actually called Yuba, named for a river in Northern California, or more accurately for the exit off I80 called "Yuba Gap", since every time we drove past it we would say "That would be a great name for a dog!)

It is hard to describe the human relationship with a dog without falling into cliche, or turning into a chapter of "Marley and me". For me, having a dog in our life connects us on a deeper level to the world. By sharing our lives with another species, we can get a glimpse of how the world might appear through different eyes, and recognize that being human isn't the only way to be.

Yuba  is a fluffy black six year old dog of indeterminate breeding, though we guess maybe a chow-chow and a retriever were involved in her parentage. We got her from the Oakland SPCA back in 2004, shortly after we got married. Our intention had been to get an older dog, suitable for us dog novices, but I fell in love with this spirited ball of fur, and pursuaded Geekydaddy that we had to take her home. She was a nine month old 40lb doggie teenager, untrained, wild, with a ridiculous amount of energy and a penchant for chasing our indignant cats.  She was also very smart, with a strong desire to please,  and especially to please someone with a pocket full of freeze dried liver. We signed up for dog obedience and I threw myself into the world of positive reinforcement training, which is actually quite good practice for childrearing, though the freeze dried liver doesn't work quite so well as a reward with the human kids. I even trained Yuba to do "agility", the showjumping like sport for dogs, and if we hadn't been blessed with the kids I would probably have become a crazy dog lady, with a house full of rescued mangy beasts and a wall of rosettes.

She is part of our family and I dread the day, hopefully long in the future when we no longer have her around. She was our first dependent, but is even happier now the pack has expanded. When we brought newborn Geekygirl home from the hospital she wanted to be with her all the time, and embraced her new responsibility as "dog big sister" with great seriousness. We had got her some special treats, to associate the new baby with good things for dogs, but instead of eating them, she offered them to tiny Geekygirl, placing them gently on the bouncy chair, then lying down next to her. I'm not one to anthropomorphize, but I was touched by this display of love and loyalty.

Since then she has been a steady back for wobbly little toddlers to lean on, a patient furry princess to be adorned with tiaras, and of course a vigilant cleaner of peanut butter smeared fingers and faces (and worse!)

One summer night back in 2004 someone abandoned a puppy. Maybe she grew bigger than expected, maybe she chewed up something precious, or maybe her owners lost their home. Rather than seeking training help, or finding her a better home, these owners gave up on her. I'm glad they did, because she is the best dog anyone could ever have, she puts smiles on the faces of everyone in our family every day, and all she asks in return is a scratch behind the ears.

Here she is getting that scratch, our sweet Yuba, or as we often call her "The dog of love"

If you're reading, I would love to hear your happy things. Apologies if you already did it!
I tag Followthatdog, craftytales, WAHM-BAM, and Wendywife

Photo by my pal Steve Reel.