the animals we chose
Of course that's not true. Dogs are animals. Happy, blissful, dependant animals I couldn't live without. But my own dogs are so removed from farmlife I forget about them when I rattle off livestock in my keep. Probably because they aren't sheepdogs or free-ranging farm mutts. They are housedogs, hiking dogs, car dogs, sled dogs. They are either with me on the couch, riding next to me in the car, or out in the middle of the wilderness hiking under pack or pulling me on a sled. Ever since I adopted them from Tennessee Sleddog Rescue in 2005 - Jazz and Annie have been with me for three states, two cross country road trips, and one book. They've tolerated Tennessee summers and Idaho winters. They've walked on crowded southern city streets and endless New England dirt roads. They've eaten chickens, broke into National Parks, and ran away at weddings. They've kept me warm on cold nights, gave me an excuse to flirt with guys at dog parks, and helped me meet so many interesting people in the mushing world. I am humbled by all they give me.
A home without a dog is a dead cell to me. A place you sleep and eat inbetween work and little trips you think are more important than they are. But having dogs changes your address (and life) in a way cats and goldfish can't. I'm sure cats and goldfish are perfectly fine pets, but let's be honest, anyone can feed your cat and goldfish. Those animals really could care less where their food comes from.
Dogs however, need us. I once questioned this, assuming most dogs would happily shack up with other owners that treated them well and fed them on time. That is until the dark day I saw a Siberian Husky waste away and die in a rescue volunteer's arms. It had been perfectly healthy a few weeks ago, but when it's owner died in a car accident it stopped eating and drinking. It committed suicide out of misery. As the withered girl's head dropped, all the other sleddogs howled together in one mournful song. It shakes me up to remember it. I can still hear the 40 other malamutes and Siberians in their runs, all wailing in unison at the death of the little girl. Never again would I see these amazing dogs, certainly not Siberians, as pets. They are the animals we choose to wander through life together. We created them to live with us, bred out their wildness, made their ears floppy, and now they need us.
And I need them.