Be Careful What You Wish For

"If only my dog lived longer..." We hear it all the time, especially from people whose dogs are nearing the end of their years, whether it's seven or 14.   Some people swear they'll never get another dog, because their best friend is gone.  I certainly agree that it's very sad, often much sadder than the loss of a friend or even a family member.   This is probably because we don't hold back on our love for our dogs, and they don't hold back on us - like small children, dogs aren't ambivalent about their loves, their fears, or even their hates (one of my dogs hates the dog in the office next door, and has for years and years).  

But I'm not sure I want my dogs to live as long as me...or even double their alloted time.  Just think, if dogs lived to be 30....

  • They'd be with us for longer than most of our children (or longer than most of us want our kids with us).
  • They would be with us for longer than most marriages last (sad but true).
  • If it wasn't a good match, we'd have to hang in there for a looonng time.
  • How long would adolescence last????   five, six or seven years?
  • Those of us who like multiple dogs would have to think very seriously about adding a new companion, not only for our sake, but also for our other dogs' sake.  Or you'd have to wait til your older dog was 28 to bring a new one in.  What age would that make you?
  • We'd have to put them in our wills, just like people who own parrots and turtles do.  And then we'd have to worry about whether others followed our wishes for our dogs.
  • Shelters and rescues would be even more crowded, especially if dogs maintained their ability to reproduce the way they do.  Generally speaking, the longer animals live, the less likely they are to have litters and the less often they have offspring.  This seems to me to be a good plan to avoid overpopulation (it doesn't seem to have worked with people). 

Another thing people wish for is that dogs could talk.    That I KNOW I don't want (though sometimes I do wish I could get into their brains and see what they're thinking and how they think).  It's much nicer to believe your dog would be saying how much he loves you when he looks at you like that, than it would be listening to him beg for more food, or tell you he's really bored, or that he would just love to go eat some horse-poop now!   In fact, I think one of the reasons we love our dogs so much is that they CAN'T talk - they can't nag, or tell us we look a bit "off" today, or whine about never getting the treats the other dogs get.   Besides, why talk, when ears and eyes and eyes and mouth and body all do the job so well! 

And to be honest, it's lovely just sitting at my desk, typing up this bit of fluff, with three dogs hanging out quietly beside me, not saying a word.