Category Archives: Luke the Dog

Two Dog Nights, Three Kid Days


Emmie with Ben Arffleck and Luke



The kids are out of school again today, for an unprecedented five days in a little over a week.  This snow and ice mix is definitely giving North Texas some Three Dog Nights (for those of you that don’t know, that’s Australian slang meaning, it’s so cold you’ll need three dogs to keep you warm—and yes, the 70’s pop band took their name from that as well).  But in our house, we’re actually having Two Dog Nights. A few days ago, our adoption was completed for a shelter dog, a “senior” apricot poodle named Ben Arffleck.

Okay, friends and family, get back in the chair you have just fallen out of—we know you probably think it’s crazy to bring a second dog into our family, but sometimes the “crazy” thing is the right thing to do, and so far it’s turned out to be a very good decision. First, this has been in the works for awhile– we had always thought it would be nice for Luke to have a playmate, considering he spent his first six months of life surrounded by dogs on a “breeding farm” and is so much happier when he’s with dogs.  He’s lonely in the house all day with just me, and Ben has been a good companion for him. They want to be near each other all the time.

Second, we fell in love with Ben’s photo when we saw it in the newspaper three weeks ago, and with his name, and with the fact that he was a “senior”. The Richardson Humane Society has been promoting senior adoption lately, since older pets are often the ones left behind in shelters, not readily adopted and euthanized as a result.  RHS rescues and fosters as many as possible until they are adopted, and by adopting Ben, we’ve not only helped him find a permanent home, we free up a spot in a foster home so that they can rescue yet another pet.

Ben, being about half the size of Luke but sometimes more active, actually reminds us more of a puppy than a senior (I think he could have also been named Benjamin Button!). Maybe “you can’t teach on old dog new tricks”, but an old dog can teach a young dog, and Ben has already taught Luke some new things.  Luke has always been a bit skittish and “stand-offish” and took awhile to warm up to us (typical of puppy farm dogs, I have learned) but around Ben, he’s acting like a normal dog.  Jumping up and down and wagging his tail like crazy, just like Ben, when we come in the house. Jumping up on the sofa to curl up next to us, just like Ben.

An added bonus is how all the kids love Ben and want to take care of him, and their shared affection for him just may be a bridge over troubled waters.  With yet another day of everyone cooped up in the house, we need that bridge.  

But I’m not kidding myself.  After everyone’s eagerness to walk, feed and hold Ben fades, there will probably be one person left “holding the leash” and that will be me. We’ve had too many “Mom’s pets” through the years not to know that from the start.  But I love dogs, and I’m fine with that. And I’m thrilled with all the sweetness that this tiny senior baby has brought with him.  True, a senior pet (RHS thinks he’s 8 or 9) won’t be around as long as a puppy, but that makes the time with him all the more precious

Mom’s Best Friend

                                

Animal therapy is a wondrous thing.  Horse programs that assist kids and adults with physical and learning disabilities.  Cats that help out in nursing homes.  Dogs that are trained to assist with an enormous amount of conditions, from blindness and deafness to Alzheimer’s Disease and peanut allergies—even those that dramatically change the lives of hard-core criminals.  I think another group that can be blessed by animal therapy is moms of pre-teens and teens, at least those who have no more young children at home.  We got our dog 2 ½ years ago and the timing couldn’t have been better.   

 

I mean, think about it.  Most young children shower Mom with unconditional love and acceptance and don’t mind being cuddled relentlessly.  The maternal side of moms is nurtured and rewarded…when my kids were babies, I remember how they’d light up when I came into their room to greet them in the morning.  They’d be sitting in their cribs and would say “Mommy!” and have the hugest smiles on their faces when they’d see me, I felt like a rock star. Fast forward to early elementary school.  When Allison would see me after school, walking up the sidewalk to get her as she waited with her class on the school’s front porch, she’d run to me with open arms and another huge smile, shouting “Mommy!”  Emmie would be so excited when I’d meet her for lunch in the school cafeteria, she’d jump up and down as she waited in the lunch line, and we’d get to sit at the special “Visitor’s Table”.  I still felt like a rock star…but as any experienced parent knows, the admiration of Mom changes.  And while I know it’s normal and healthy and has to do with forming their own identity, distancing themselves from their “youth” and becoming more independent, the maternal part of a mom doesn’t change, and the rejection hurts.  It’s like the late comedian Sam Kinison used to say (er, scream) in one of his routines, “WHY DON’T YOU JUST REACH INTO MY CHEST AND RIP MY HEART OUT RIGHT NOW???!!!”

 

The other day, I was up at the elementary school for a meeting and it finished right at lunchtime.  I thought I’d pop into the school cafeteria (I hadn’t been there for lunch in a long time) to surprise Emmie.  As I made my way across the crowded lunchroom, I didn’t see her sitting with her friends.  They were giggling.  “She’s hiding under the table,” they said.  “She’s embarrassed you’re here.” (Ouch!)  Last week, after Emmie and I ordered special gymnastic team T-shirts to commemorate the state meet, Emmie informed me that we’d better be careful not to wear them on the same day. (Ow!) Monday, as I dropped Allison off at school, I had to run in to pick up something that another parent had left for me at the front desk.  “You’d better not walk in at the same time as me!” she instructed me as we pulled up.  (Rip!) Today, as she watched TV and ate breakfast (a rare occurance on a school day but allowed this morning since she didn’t have to report to school until 1 p.m.), I walked through the living room and started watching, too (after all, it was Tivo’ed American Idol) and as soon as she realized what was happening, she said, “Please leave the room.”(Geez!)  I know, she wanted to watch by herself without me asking a bunch of questions (“Do you know that song?” “How do you pronounce Siobhan?”) but it still hurt.

 

So, I just go hug and cuddle my sweet dog.  I hug him a lot.  He licks my hand and wags his tail, and I feel like a rock star. 

 

Mom’s Pet Service

It’s such a cliche’, but it’s true– all family pets eventually become Mom’s.  Over the last 15 years, I’ve become the reluctant (and eventual guilt-ridden) caretaker of two goldfish named Goldie and Glowy (accidentally killed ’em within a week of owning them); a long-haired guinea pig named Snickers (he lasted a few years– but eventually got a kidney stone and died, probably because I didn’t add enough fresh veggies to his diet); an anole named Colors (kind of looked like the Geico gecko– I dutifully bought him a bag of mini crickets and a meal worm each week…but I think I waited too long one week…) and our current animal resident, a Cavachon dog named Luke (trust me, I’m doing all I can to keep him alive and healthy!!).  We waited a long time to get a dog– we wanted to wait until we’d moved to a bigger house, and to make sure our kids were old enough to help with the responsibility.  Hah! The joke was on me, again.

As it turns out, we had to take ownership of him a month before Christmas– he was already six months old, and the breeder didn’t want to “hold” him longer than a couple weeks once my husband and I decided he was “the one”.  Since he was supposed to be a Christmas surprise for our kids, we hid him at our friend Clyde’s house until The Big Day.  I’d drop the kids off at school and stop at Clyde’s on the way home, picking up Luke and keeping him all day at our house until it was time to take him back (and I had to be very careful to get rid of any evidence that he’d been at our house– thank goodness he doesn’t shed!) So, naturally, who does he follow around once he’s introduced to the rest of the family on Christmas morning? Me.  He is hopelessly attached to me.  And while that defeats our original purposes of having a dog (a pet for the kids, a calming influence for my teen, a chance for the girls to learn responsibility), it sure is nice to have a “baby” to cuddle on your lap when your kids get too big for it…

Amazingly, the blog post I wrote about him several months ago has received the most hits of any entry on this blog, 897 to be exact. So with that in mind, here is another photo of Luke the Dog– recently caught in the act of helping to clean the dishes.  Hey, at least somebody’s helping!!!

                                

Dogland

We took our dog to a dog park (also known as a “bark park”) for the first time yesterday.  I couldn’t help but see the similarities to taking the kids to a park for play dates when they were younger…there are those dogs that “play nicely” and those that don’t, those in designer sweaters and those without, those that are overly obsessed with poop and privates…and “parents” sitting on park benches with goofy grins on their faces,  marveling over their dog’s behavior (“He’s never done that before!!”) and discussing such topics as age and discipline techniques.  Some had cameras to record their dog’s every move and of course one family even brought the requisite video camera…

                                                                                  

Our dog had a blast, and I must say, these dog parks post rules that human playgrounds should use.  Like, “If your dog acts aggressive toward other dogs, you must take it out of the park.” Substitute the word “dog” with “child”–wouldn’t that be great if parents of playground bullies would do the same?  Or how about, “You must clean up your own mess.” Not only are plastic bags provided at the dog park, but a special trash can as well! If they can do that for all those dogs, why not for diapers, too? And how about Rule #7,  “Children under 10 entering the park must be accompanied by a parent.” Gee, what a novel idea.  I once saw some kids at a McDonald’s Playland (too big to be sliding down tubes with 4-year-olds, I might add), who were dropped off there by their parents.  The parents drove up later to share some McNuggets…