This is also about Ellie, but I was trying to play off of the mega movie hit “Marley and Me,” based on the wonderful book by John Grogan. (I interviewed him on the morning show and it remains one of my very favorite conversations) and also because the photograph is of just the two of us in an all-too typical pose.
Today was the first day of the spring semester at Carthage, which means that my month off from Carthage is all over – and one of the saddest things about that is that I will see so little of our golden retrievers for the next four months. And it makes me very sad that I let the month go by without spending even more time with them and lavishing the kind of attention on them which is utterly impossible when the school year is in full swing.
It’s tough because Golden Retrievers- and our goldens in particular – love people and thrive on attention and activity, and that is something in too short of supply around here. Kathy is much much much much better than I am, and if it weren’t for her our two dogs would probably have run away from home a long time ago or secured legal representation to have their ownership transferred to more fitting owners. And where I really fall down on the job, “parentally,” is when I’m home but utterly oblivious to these two animals – especially when I am sitting at this little device, typing my blog or catching up on emails or updating Facebook. Even now, as I type this entry about how much I love our dogs and feel like I am neglecting them, they are lying on the other side of the living room, looking – you guessed it – neglected. Kind of makes you wonder how I graduated cum laude, doesn’t it?
I used to wonder, quite sincerely, why anybody would have a pet other than a dog. . . but that’s because the Bergs always had dogs – and except for a couple of gerbils and at least one other rodent, a rabbit, and a couple of goldfish, we were always dog people – as were the Galls – so there wasn’t much question of what kind of a pet Kathy and I would have. And it has always mystified me that people would want a pet as aloof as a cat or as utterly indifferent as a goldfish or parakeet or whatever – – – about as far as you can get from the slobbery, no-holds-barred love of a golden retriever. Of course, with time I have come to realize that cats are a beautiful animal all their own and many of them are affectionate – and other pets bring their own pleasures – and if you are someone with a busy life who tends to be only a fleeting and blurry presence in the home, man’s best friend is maybe not the ideal choice and it might make a lot more sense to go with goldfish.
I especially doubted my fitness as a father of dogs one night about a week ago when I was finishing up something downstairs after Kathy had headed up to bed. I put the dogs in our little fenced-in side yard, plopped myself down on the couch to catch the last minutes of “Frasier,” and promptly fell asleep – and woke up almost two hours later – at 1:10 a.m.! And there were our dogs in the side yard, shivering but not yet barking or howling or calling their lawyer . . . but probably regretting their misfortune at being owned by someone so forgetful or prone to sudden and ill-timed naps.
And yet . . . here we are , with two golden retrievers that we love and who love us (even if it’s only in that “I love you because you feed us” sort of way” – although it sure feels like much more than that) and all I can do is type a little quicker and maybe write a bit more succinctly, with an occasional “I love you” thrown over my shoulder until I can hit “publish” or “send” or whatever and then get back to matters far more important. . . like hugging our dogs, throwing a ball, rolling around on the floor with them, and letting them know that they matter.
Because they do.