Friday, February 27, 2009

Learning from a dog

It has been raining a lot everyday this week, either in the mornings or afternoons/evenings or both. And usually they are heavy with loud thunder and strong, howling winds. Going out without an umbrella is risky. On one hand I'm glad it's raining so much. That means I don't need to go to the new house everyday to water the grass we've planted. They almost dried up two weeks ago when we forgot to water it for just one day after planting them when the weather was still scorching hot.

On the other hand, it's troublesome sending and fetching Caitlin to and from school when it rains, and my balcony gets soaking wet which translates to Rusty stomping around with wet paws if he goes out to the balcony for meals or toilet break. Mopping the floor is a daily affair now with Rusty around. I hope to re-train him to be more independent outside the house when we move to the new place. I wonder if that's possible as he is a very clingy dog, must always have someone within sight or feel. He's been like this ever since we brought him home the very first day. We had tried to keep him outside the first few nights but he was crying most times and would only stop if he saw us. So Eugene and I took turns to babysit him and slept out in the living room where he could see us. Then we gave up and let him in. Now he sleeps outside our bedroom doors and sometimes under my bed.

During the day, he'd follow me around the house most times, even when I make a short 30-second trip between the toilet and the bedroom, he has to get up and follow. He's now lying down across the corridor watching me blog. Sometimes, he'd sit under my chair. When I'm in the kitchen, he wedges himself between my legs and the stove, making me stand and cook in a very weird position.

He will be four months old in a few days time. He's grown very rapidly given his good appetite, happy and playful nature and contented life. His visit last month to the vet for vaccination recorded his weight of 3.2kg and one month later a few days ago, he weighed 5.4 kg. He needs a haircut soon. We're thinking of getting a trimmer and groom him ourselves as it is cheaper in the long run. Otherwise, visits to the dog groomer at least bi-monthly would set us back between RM60 to RM80 per visit if I'm not mistaken. Caring for a dog is not cheap, if you love the dog enough to keep him healthy - proper dog food, paraphernalia for his personal hygiene like brush/comb, nail clipper, shampoo/conditioner, fur trimmer, vaccinations, deworming, vet visits if he gets sick, grooming fees if he needs it, vitamins or other tablets (e.g. for heartworm), chewing toys if he's a puppy, ......and replacing or repairing stuff he's bitten or broken (I hope we don't get into situations ala Marley & Me)

The battery operated fur trimmer the vet recommended costs between RM180 and RM230 depending on which model we take. I think a guy's electric shaver doesn't even cost that much!

A few evenings ago, we left Rusty alone at home when we went out for dinner. He had kept himself busy and had fun while we were out by the looks of it when we got home. He had dragged several floor mats and probably tussled with them, leaving them in heaps on the floor. His food bowl was inside the house, upside down (I always thought those bowls were designed such that they couldn't grip and carry it around...) He had ransacked a lower open shelf in the kitchen on which I didn't realise I had stored some of his treats. An empty, obviously bitten and torn open packet of chewy, chicken-flavoured milk bone treats was evidence of the crime. He had eaten up the whole packet but was smart enough not to eat the wrapper and the keep-fresh preservation sachet. His abdomen looked full and fat. Naughty boy.

Isn't the life a dog like Rusty's great? When he's not following me around, sleeping, eating or pooping, he's running around like a mad dog chasing his rolly toys, jumping at you excitedly asking to play catch...what a life.

I'm reminded that we humans should sometimes live more simply like dogs - as long as our basic needs are met and we are reasonably comfortable, we should just be happy and contented, enjoy the company of people you love, play and have fun more, sleep when we feel like it without worrying that there's still work to be done.

Life is just too short to waste it on keeping the house as clean as a hospital and nagging over small stuff, finding more money to buy things we don't really need or to keep up with the Joneses. It is not a must to give our child everything she asks for, it is not necessary to send her to every child enrichment class available in town, it is not necessary to spend thousands of dollars on a branded handbag. We and our children need to be self-confident and balanced in a competitive world where you are judged by your looks and first impressions, where everyone shouts to be heard and shows off to impress and feed their egos. We forget that we are all made the same, and as ashes and dust we shall return to our Maker.

Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent leading towards Good Friday and Easter.

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