Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dogs Are the Best

Azor entered our lives unexpectedly. We weren’t looking for him. He adopted us without us really noticing what he was up to.


       Even though my husband and I had both grown up with dogs, we had postponed getting one ourselves, due to various moves. Then, one summer, during an extended camping tour with the kids, our youngest must have been eight at the time, we stayed at a small rustic lake-side campground. The owner of the place owned several dogs, one of which had two puppies frolicking about. Of course our three boys were instantly drawn to  these two cute little bundles of fur and couldn’t get enough playing with them. The puppies beat the lake hands down. They ended up sleeping between the inner and outer shell of our tent at night.

       When the time had come to pack up and leave for home my husband, following a spur of the moment inspiration, asked the owner about the puppies. Apparently, she had been looking for good homes to give them to. Within seconds she came to the car that was parked at the exit, the boys in the back bracing for a long dull day on the road, and dropped the little black pup in a shoe box on their laps. This was the beginning of a life-long love-affair.

Changed family life

       With the arrival of Azor in our family things began to change. When the boys would come down for breakfast in the morning the first thing they did was hug Azor. They had been going through a phase of competition and one-upmanship that had been getting grimmer by the week. I had tried to turn the tide but hadn’t been entirely successful. Enter Azor and the daily morning hug – times three. Our early morning bullying  problems vanished in thin air. He became my ally in dispelling gloomy moods and gung ho attitudes in the boys. He turned out to be our little black hole, effortlessly sucking up all the negative energy in the room on any given day.

A Dog's Gifts

       But that wasn’t all. With Azor, all of us got regular practice in life lessons unintentionally. What better way for a young child to learn commitment and dedication than by sticking to a daily routine of walking the dog? What better way for a young child to learn patience than by teaching him to sit up and give a paw? What better way for all of us to learn that giving is receiving than by spending time with a dog and receiving its unfailing friendship in return?

       We’ll miss our little Azor, for he died of old age after 16 years of unabated companionship. My son Jesse and I buried him in the backyard. Jesse, who was ten when the shoebox was dropped onto his lap that sunny morning, said he couldn’t really remember a time when Azor hadn’t been there. And so it is for me.

Johanna van Zwet
(This blogpost was adapted from a post on the author's personal blog)

The Rainbow Bridge

By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.

They romp through the grass, without even a care,
Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack….
(click to read the entire poem The Rainbow Bridge)

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