Not a child

Amy's dog is one hundred percent adorable.  Manassas, Virginia, July 2013

Amy’s dog is one hundred percent adorable. Manassas, Virginia, July 2013

“My dog is not a child substitute, according to its pediatrician.”Rita Rudner

On a recent weekend visit, Drew and Megan were laughing about their having unintentionally referred to Grady as “Pasha” a couple of times.  I laughed too, but before the weekend was over, I had done it myself.  It’s an easy mistake to make.  They’re about the same size, not too much difference in the weight, same sort of addictive cuteness that elicits an irresistible urge to talk in silly voices.

Most of us who have animals in our homes probably never realized that adopting a pet would bring out behaviors to which we once thought ourselves immune.  You may have even said at some point (as I did, more than once) “I would never, ever act as foolish over a dog (or cat or bird or whatever) as they do — you would think that was a child.”

The interesting thing is, once you lose that particular illusion, you’re in.  You get it.  And you will usually find yourself much more enamored of animals in general.  Some of my best friends are my best friends’ dogs.  Take the sweetheart pictured above.  He (yes, it’s a HE, and no sexist remarks about the doll please) is one of the most loveable cuties I’ve ever seen.  Good thing he’s too big for me to hold on my lap.

If you are lucky enough to have an animal in your household, take it from one parent to another:  Enjoy these years.  They go by much too fast!


  1. HarryS

    There have been very few times in my life when I haven’t had a dog as a pet. 🙂
    I loved every one of them. 🙂
    Some of the best crying I ever did was when my dog died! 🙂

    • I know the feeling. Our dog Pasha died recently after over 16 years with us, and I haven’t stopped missing him. Whenever I feel sad I just try to remind myself how lucky we were to have him in our family.

  2. Sheila

    Julia, I’m in….I get it….it’s official! I’M A DOG ADORER!! How lucky Amy is to have such a precious “child”. Wonderful blog! I miss Salty. Four months later and there is such an emptiness. I’m just glad to have known such a loving friend.

    • Sheila, as you know, I feel the same way about Pasha. I keep coming across reminders of him, especially when I look through my photos. He loved autumn and would always get frisky at this time of year. As soon as it turned cool outside he was raring to go for a walk.

      • Sheila

        Just last Saturday at Willow Tree, I reminded Bill how Salty loved to stand at the edge of the trees, cool fall breeze blowing his ears back, and that spaniel nose so high in the air, he was quite the snob! Haha. 🙂

        • Some author — I forgot who — was writing about how extravagantly developed a dog’s sense of smell is. By comparison, we are the olefactory equivalent of legally blind. I love to see dogs sniffing the breeze. Lots more poetic and appealing than most of the other stuff they love to sniff :-). I remember reading that the fire hydrant is the dog’s newspaper!

  3. Sherrie Cannon

    I pass by a vet’s office that has this on their sign: “Be the kind of person your dog thinks you are.” (Not exactly the same topic you are talking about, but…)

    • Hi Sherrie, you are right on topic – a good family makes a good dog. I’ve read that a lot of dogs (maybe all) take their cue about how to regard people from their human companion. If a person is wary or afraid of someone else, the dog can supposedly sense that. From what I’ve seen, I think that must be true.

  4. Carolyn

    Good morning, I have been reading your blogs but haven’t sent a note in a while. Love this time of year and the pumpkin bread which makes the house smell wonderful. Terry isn’t a pumpkin fan so I don’t use it too often, if you served it to him as a pie, he would eat it, but he is an apple pie eater. This is a great time for apples also. Now to the animals, no I’m not an animal lover. The kids had a cat but never wanted a dog. Now they both have a dog. Jennifer’s dog is named Larry. Once when we were there he was so happy to see us that his tail hit my leg and broke a few blood vessels. Boy was he a happy dog. Right now I will just have Terry as my pet. I got a great report from for my 3 month check up, see them again in 3 months. Better close, love and hugs to you all.

    • Carolyn, that is such GREAT news! We have been praying for you to get a good report. I am surprised to learn you are not an animal lover. You seem like the type who would be crazy about them. I had a childhood friend who was famous for her love of rabbits. When she was an adult, she got a dog. She told everyone, “the only reason I loved rabbits so much is because that’s the only kind of pet my dad would let us have.” I like all the animals (except snakes and spiders) but dogs are definitely my favorite. I would love Larry but I’m sorry he bruised you! High-spirited for sure.

  5. merry

    Oh yes, pets…they do steal our hearts! :}…my little Maltese terrier, Charlie loves his pink bear…chews its ears and plays with it.
    My husband and children loves animals, dogs and cats. As a child, I never had a pet, unless one would call younger siblings pets.~/
    Now that we’re empty nesters, Charlie is keeping us company!!
    Enjoy your thursday!

    • Thank you, Merry! We are still grieving over our Pasha but whenever Jeff gets better and things settle down, we hope to get another dog. They are such a wonderful blessing in life. Hope you have a great weekend coming up!

  6. What a great photo. You capture the true Wrecker. He is definitely a great friend for Stephen and I and filled a void when both children were suddenly gone one late summer day. Thanks for sharing this. We have loved our goldies. They are such great pets. We have a crabby cat too!! 🙂 Hugs to you. Wrecker says hi!!

    • Thanks – tell him I will just have to come see him REAL soon and I’ll treat him to all the ice he wants to crunch. Your kitty is nice too, just more of an introvert. I do think the expression in this photo is so totally him – just sweet through and through.

  7. I am lucky to have my wonderful dog Casey. I can’t imagine a world without him. You’ve written about my favorite topic, Julia.

    • Oh good, thank you! I am always happy to meet other dog lovers. Our animal friends give us such joy, and a kind of love we can’t find elsewhere. Thanks for visiting, and for your comment!

  8. Terri Wallacker

    When my niece came to live with us 12 years ago, she was nearly 15 years old. She had lost her grandparents, my dad and my step mom, within 7 months, and was grieving, hurt, angry and confused. Her birth mother, my sister, had died when she was an infant. Her dad did not make himself available to be her parent. So she had lived most of her life with my parents. When she came to live with us, it was a complicated time and a sober time. Lee and I had suffered so many losses and the extended family was not behaving well, as is often the case when loved ones die. Well, we took Erin in and did our best and today she is a lovely, strong, Christian lady with so much common sense and kindness in her soul! I remember one day, during the darkest times, Lee brought home a tiny kitten who had been abandoned by her mother in the shop where he worked as a mechanic. This was a fiery little pistol of a kitten, who could bite off the tip of a little baby bottle as fast as we could offer one! She was such a blast and offered a fun and needed distraction to us! Erin named her Serena and she was quite a precious addition to our family, soothing us as we moved through our grief. Many years later, Serena is gone, but we have been adopted by 3 new cats. The first half hour of our day is a circus, keeping the males separated and away from the hissing princess, who would just as soon swat them as to look at them. The morning feeding routine is pretty hilarious, with one or the other where they shouldn’t be, upsetting the whole kitty dynamics on a regular basis. They keep us busy, laughing and distract us from our troubles. And yes…. we too use those silly “voices” to communicate with our friends. I think God knew exactly what he was doing when he created pets! Thanks for the post, Julia.

    • Terri, thanks so much for sharing this story with us. I think pets give us a kind of love we could find nowhere else. I just can’t believe it could have been accidental; I think God created them to do exactly what they do best. In fact, somewhere I have a great cartoon I clipped out of the SF Chronicle years ago, that basically says that very thing. I appreciate your sharing this story…it brought a smile to my face!

  9. I wouldn’t care if Grady was too big for my lap, I’d just get down on the floor and love him up. ADORABLE! Almost all my friends have had a dog or cat at some point in there lives, so I know there’s no judgement when I say, “moms home” when I walk in the door with them. We have always considered our pets our family and why not? It’s true the time does go by too fast. In the old days, if you didn’t get film for your camera fast enough, you could miss the whole kitten or puppy stage. Before you know it, they’re teens. Then the dreaded senior age. But if you’re lucky like we’ve been, they’re the best thing to ever happen to your home. I miss Buddy and Jasper so much, but have the best memories to hang on to.

    • I think I did miss the very earliest stage of Pasha’s life, when he looked like a baby bear with his plump little body and docked tail. We actually had some neighborhood kids come running up while we were walking him, thinking it was a baby bear! After he died, I went through my photos (not as many in those days, as I was working, and film and processing were relatively more expensive) and was so sad that I could not find any from the “baby bear” stage. But, since Schipperkes all look so much alike, I was able to find a photo online that will give you an idea. I know I will always miss Pasha as you miss Buddy and Jasper, but how lucky we are to have the memories!!

      • Awww, Pasha was the cutest. I can see the baby bear resemblance for sure. We are so very lucky. They gave every once of the hearts for us to keep with us forever. xo


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