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!

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. mike c.

    My son and family just got a new little one- A Morkie which is a Maltese/Yorkie mix. Tiny dog which i am afraid i might step on. It weighs about two pounds and will grow to about five. Tiny little thing. You know anything about these.? It has a tendency to run back and forth and try to get under things. Is that Terrier tendency.

    I put some pruning stuff on Upper Room,I thought you might enjoy.(see below) I may work it into a devotion but it may be too abstract. Some of us have small pruning budgets and might not recover if we get cut back too much. That is it in a nutshell. What kind of nutshell you ask?I was thinking of becoming a Master Gardener- and am one in my head – but when i left the University i took about a year and a half of J.C. classes at South Seattle Communit \y college from a really good teacher Van Bobbit. But i never got a certificate or anything like that.

    It is interesting that some plants have what they call a “small pruning budget.” You can only take a small amount of the plant off- like less than ten percent and if you take more then the plant might not recover. Other plants have a higher pruning budget and you can take more off of them without damage. I am sure there is a message there. I learned that in my J. C. pruning class, when i was thinking about becoming a master gardener.
    But plants are my thing still and yesterday we went to the beautiful Gibbs garden up out of Ballground, Ga,-and once again i found a mystery plant that may be a wild passion flower. It has a seed pod that looks like a Kiwi fruit. Every time i go i find a mystery plant I do not know or can’t identify and i suppose that is part of the allure of gardening.
    And by the way- there is a wonderful gardener in Seattle -Cisco Morris who i have learned a lot from. He has a blog and is now semi- retired and leads garden tours all over Europe and other places. Maybe you can go on one. I have gone to many of his talks and he used to have a Saturday morning talk show. He is also very quirky and funny and he has a hundred jokes about brussel sprouts and his favorite plant expression is ooh. la,la. I kind of miss him.

    • Mike, we had friends many years ago who had a Yorkie, and it was just as you describe, and I too was always afraid of stepping on it. His name was Zach and he was adorable but definitely hyper. Perhaps that’s a breed trait.

      When we first moved to Virginia, I was offered a job as a librarian at a nearby library, and one of the stipulations was that I would be required to get my Master Gardener certificate, because I would have been the caretaker of the library garden. I thought that was really cool, but I refused the job because they would not consider letting me work part time, and I was not interested in full time work.

      Cisco Morris sounds like fun. Regarding “pruning budgets” — I have never heard the term but there are definitely parallels to life. I myself feel as if I have an exceptionally small pruning budget with a gardener that wants to push that envelope more and more. I keep thinking I won’t survive if anything else goes, and then more goes. I’ve decided that must be how the end of life approaches for most people…gradually, with loss upon loss until finally the ultimate goodbye. It sounds depressing but it also can be liberating when one gets used to living with loss of control.

  2. Sheila

    Julia, I never thought we’d get so busy here in Knoxville, enjoying, exploring, and learning the area, that happiness and carefree would overshadow our health concerns.We went to Cade’s Cove for the day after Bill’s proton therapy on Thursday. It was a glorious day there, lost in time. Bill is doing well and we are so fortunate to be able to get this advanced treatment. We go back to Garden City in 4 weeks. So much has happened to us, you and me, since this original post. This is a diary that I never dreamt would remind me of days and happenings, some better than other. We are still out on that Verandah together, may need an afghan and hot cocoa soon! Never forget sharing so much🧡🙏🏻

    • Sheila, I am so happy you have been able to enjoy at least some of what could have been a negative experience. It’s wonderful to hear that Bill is doing well. Yes, we have covered a lot of ground here…so much goes into life on a daily basis and these post and comments capture only a small part of it, but much of what is captured here would have been lost to time and memory. That afghan and hot cocoa sounds good! It’s a rainy evening here and a great time to hear from one of my favorite people. 🙂 ❤

  3. mike c.

    Well yes- that is the agenda loss, after loss , after loss.Loss with a big L It is all about the losses at this point. And every time i hear an entertainer who i treasured in my youth passes- like Helen Reddy or Mack? it strikes a blow and the media lets us know immediately what we have lost.
    Rollheister talks about the cumulative losses of his mother and how at some point she just found it really freeing- losing her teeth, her house, her possessions. I suppose it might be some kind of a grand sifting. But that is scarce comfort I know. Living with loss of control is definitely part of this and so hard for most of us in this DIY culture. There is not magic cure.
    And we are not prepared that well for losing.
    In Western Salish culture when a person dies- you give away all their posessions and don’t speak their name for a year.
    ” We are born- we die, and in between there is gardening.”

    • I like that last quote! My goal is to give it all away (or dispose of it) before I die, and make formal arrangements for whatever financial assets are left to be given to those nonprofits I supported in life. I don’t want anyone having to go through my stuff, most of which is valuable only to me for sentimental reasons. After being so close to so many deaths, and also seeing how differently younger generations ascribe value to various things in life, I have no illusions about anyone wanting anything of mine. It’s a bit hard to realize at first, but as you say, it’s also freeing.

  4. mike c

    Yea what is the master gardener saying to us? It is pruning time?

    • Ah, pruning! Never a one-and-done thing, but in a healthy, growing plant, a continual task. So maybe if we need pruning it’s a sign that we’re still growing. Speaking of which, when this rain stops, I have to get busy doing some literal pruning.

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