ChildDrenched: Are Dogs Ruling the World?

Families with children can benefit from the love of a dog. My family is missing a dog after the loss of our dear family pet, Jasper, nearly a year ago.

The short answer to the posed question is YES. Clearly, in my home and across America, it seems that the essence of dog is the way in to almost everything. As I approach the anniversary of writing my blog with entries about many emotional, adoption-related topics, no entry has surpassed the readership I received when I posted about my dearly departed yellow lab, Jasper, last summer. And it seems that everywhere I look-- in real life, on TV, and around the internet-- people include their dogs in almost every aspect of their lives.

Jasper was the perfect family dog for his entire eleven-year life. As a puppy, he quickly learned that nipping at my two sons (then ages seven and nine) was not going to make them play with him more, and he learned to sleep alone in his crate when the whining did not successfully bring me downstairs each night to free him. At one-year-old, he was the perfect displaced youngest child when my newly adopted, infant daughter entered our world as he protected, warmed and entertained her.  He learned how to make us smile more often, throw the ball for longer periods of time, and offer him treats, which he never tired of. He enjoyed watching television with the family reacting positively to dogs, horses and elephants (and ignoring cats and rodents) when they appeared on the screen. His passing nine months ago has not only been painful because we all miss him terribly, but since then, I have been tormented daily by my entire family to get another dog.

My stubborn resistance to getting another dog is simple: We will not find another Jasper.  His personality was so wonderful, calm and compassionate; I cannot imagine that we would luck out twice. No other dog will fill the void that was left by Jasper who was just as happy when we arrived home late for his dinner or after dark, having forgotten to leave lights on for him. My family is convinced another dog is the solution to our sadness and will help us heal after the loss of Jasper. I am not at all convinced we are emotionally ready for another dog, although the intrinsic benefits of a dog, especially for kids, are amazing.  In addition, even though they all fervently promise to care for the dog themselves, I am the one who will most often feed, train, pick up after and worry about a new dog. On the other hand, now that my daughter is in her tween years, perhaps a dog would help her learn responsibility for something other than her iPod.

As I look around online at other blogs, I notice the pictures of dogs used to accompany posts, which may or may not be about dogs. It has become apparent that readers of all kinds like to see, hear and read about dogs, whether they have one or not. Case in point, Heather B. Armstrong’s marvelous blog features her adorable, tolerant mutt Chuck: http://dooce.com/2013/02/04/attention-people-of-the-internet/. What other creature would tolerate a pile of cooked noodles on his nose for a picture?

Before my sweet Jasper passed away last May, it never occurred to me to feature him in my blog to build my readership.  After he left us Memorial Day weekend and I wrote about him for the first time, my blog readers had more comments and passed along my URL to friends more than with any other post before or since then.  Even topics about adoption, parenting, family issues, holidays, shootings and personal brushes with death have not compared to the popularity of my post mourning Jasper. Had I known, <read more>

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marge petrow February 15, 2013 at 01:31 PM
A very sweet story. You will never replace what you have lost in your very special boy Jasper however you can save another life by adopting a homeless animal shelter pet.
Robert February 15, 2013 at 05:15 PM
I agree with Marge you can always save another life by adopting another furry creature from your local shelter. We need them as much as they need us.
Patty Lazarus February 15, 2013 at 06:18 PM
Thanks for your comments. I actually took my daughter to the local shelter last weekend as a first step!
Michele February 15, 2013 at 06:48 PM
Great story. Please know that although you cannot replace Jasper you can love another dog and may soon wonder why you did not look for one sooner. Over the years I have had to deal with the loss of many wonderful dogs. Each one was different....different in appearance, different in personality, different likes and dislikes but they all had one thing in common and that is that they loved unconditionally and with a devotion unknown to mankind. When you take the plunge don't compare to the loved one that you cannot replace. Just love the new friend in the same way you would a 2nd child. Good luck!!!!
Deborah Bell February 15, 2013 at 08:46 PM
Michele, you hit the nail on the head! Absolutely true!


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