If your family has a dog or cat, then you probably know that those furry creatures certainly manage to work their way into the center of family life.
I've always been fans of dogs more than cats. I guess that's because I grew up with dogs as pets. My husband Larry loves cats but his allergies can't abide them. The sneezes and wheezes and coughs and sputters were enough to turn him into a dog lover.
Next week, our old dog, Toby, the lovable, friendly flat-coated retriever, is going to have a little surgery. He has a bit of a growth on one of his feet that has continued to grow and get in the way of his daily activities.
He's been a little woeful of late. I'm not sure if he's in any pain with the growth. He groans every morning as he climbs to his feet from a prone position - something a lot of us do.
But the one thing that hasn't been effected is Toby's wagging tail. All it takes is a mention of his name or the question "Who's a good boy?" and he comes running, knocking things off end tables with his thrashing tail as he passes by. He loves affection and attention.
Daniel is Toby's favorite human in the house. He follows my son around and if given the chance, he plops down beside Daniel to have a snooze while his boy buddy plays a video game or watches TV. Toby, according to Daniel, also makes a very good pillow.
Toby and Daniel got to be very close friends when they took part in a dog obedience project for 4-H. Even though Toby had been through a couple of training classes before that, he willingly obliged by following Daniel's commands and learning to behave on leash. Well, most of the time, anyway.
Soon, they will begin working toward the summer and another county fair. We hope that Toby's little procedure next week will mean that he will be fit as fiddle and ready to compete. Of course, I think he might have to wear the "Cone of Shame" for a few days. I know that's not the technical name for that plastic collar dogs wear around their heads to keep them from licking or chewing their various parts, but it certainly seems to descibe how pooches look when they have it on. They all have those downcast eyes that seem to say - "Don't look at me, I look ridiculous."
But with Toby, those forlorn, sad-eyed looks only endear him more to his human family. He is a sweet, good-natured fellow who only wants to please his people and get a little love and affection in return.
Ah, who could ask for anymore than that?