“The life of a good dog is like the life of a good person, only shorter and more compressed,” writes Pulitzer Price-winning author Anna Quindlen about her beloved black Labrador retriever, Beau. I’m a big fan of the Quindlen sensibility when it comes to kids and dogs. She has written prolifically and profoundly about both. This homage to dogs and in her case, one specific beloved one, was beautifully characterized in her little book, Good Dog. Stay.
With her trademark wisdom and humor, Quindlen reflects on how her life had unfolded in tandem with Beau’s, and on the lessons she learned by watching him: to roll with the punches, to take things as they come, to measure herself not in terms of the past or the future but of the present, to raise her nose in the air from time to time and, at least metaphorically, holler, “I smell bacon!”
If you have a dog, or for that matter any beloved pet, all of these truisms will come to life for you as well, I’m sure. For everyone who has ever brought home a puppy or watched a kitten play with a ball of string or created a fish tank for your curious child, knows the overwhelming sense of affection and attention that accompanies these animal acquisitions.
I was an only child on a farm where animals were part of the extended family. Even though my father strongly suggested NOT giving the calves names or finding familiarity with a certain precocious chicken, I did it anyway! Who can resist those big, beautiful eyes of a baby calf or the often-comedic antics of a feisty rooster. And of course there were adorable barn cats and generally at least a hound or two under the porch. (I suppose that made us rednecks?)
No matter barnyard or backyard or beneath the covers in your bedroom, the love of a family pet is an almost indescribable relationship for anyone who has taken a living, breathing animal into their heart and home.
It’s no surprise that those who suffer from trauma, or grief, or malady, find hope and help from the tail-wagging, tongue-licking of a happy dog. Or the sweet purr and contentment of a fluffly feline. Or even the companionship of a tiny hedgehog.
In this edition of PADUCAH LIFE Magazine, the wild LIFE that surrounds us in our forests, fields, and habitations, tell a story of animal magnetism. It’s a mesmerizing force that connects people to the unconditional friendship of a crazy-about-you critter.