Sunday, September 29, 2019

Loving Dogs - Why . .. When . . . How?

Submitted by Karna Small Bodman 

It occurs to me that the word "loving" in the title here could be an adjective or a noun...an adjective decribing dogs that love us, a noun (a gerund really) describing how we love dogs.  It's been going on for centuries - how many? A commonly held belief is that canines descended from wolves and were domesticated around 10,000 BC, but it's more recently that we began to breed them with specific objectives in mind. The Scots first bred the collie to herd sheep, and years later we all learned to love the best known collie, Lassie -- hero of book, movies and TV shows.

Retrievers, spaniels as well as poodles were all selectively bred to be great guard dogs, although word has it that the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, named for King Charles II, which was so loved by royalty and desired as companions of the titled class so many years ago, was bred to attract fleas that otherwise could have landed on humans. 

King Charles II family and their spaniel

Then we have the "working dogs" who aid our military and police. German Shepherds are often trained  in search and rescue operations.  Who can forget the terrific book by W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog's Purpose which became the #1 New York Times bestseller and was turned into a major motion picture being shown today. It features a number of dogs, serving different purposes and living different lives through reincarnation. . . one of those lives was as a German Shepherd who performs an incredible rescue operation.


Even "bad dogs" have been turned into loveable characters in books and movies. Case in point: Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog, by John Grogan,  first published in 2005 and also made into a feature film.  Many of us remember the story of the young couple who  bring home a wiggly yellow Labrador Retriever puppy who ends up as a 97 pound terror --  crashing through screen doors, stealing clothes and failing obedience school (he was expelled). And yet, we came to love that little devil, just as he showed boundless love for his "masters."


A movie showing in theaters in the last few weeks features another uplifting story of family love, hope and loyalty and, as the publisher describes it: a story that only a dog could tell. Indeed in The Art of Racing in the Rain actor Kevin Costner serves as the dog's voice describing danger, tragedy, redemption and the relationship between two souls.  


The growing popularity of dogs as wonderful pets and companions, has, unfortunately, led to the development of  "puppy mills" run by many unscrupulous characters who breed so many dogs that those who are not purchased or adopted end up "euthenized," living in cages or, if they're lucky, finding a temporary home with the Humane Society or a local Rescue Center. A book that tells the story about what rescued dogs can teach us was written by Peter Zheutlin as a follow-up to his New York Tines bestseller, Rescue Road. If you have a notion that you might consider rescuing a dog, check this out:


 Of course, there are tons of uplifting tales about dogs. In fact, Amazon has over 10,000 "dog stories" offered on its website.  On a personal note,  we have two labradoodles - a breed developed in Australia in the 1980's by a man who wanted to create a service dog for a blind woman whose husband was allergic to Labrador Retrievers, the standard service dog.  So he bred a lab with a poodle -- which is hypo-allergenic,  and voila, the Labradoodle.  When we were trying to decide on names for our pups, a friend suggested I use one of my book titles, so we named one "Gambit" and the other after the heroine in that story, "Cammy."


My father used to say that learning to care for a dog is "civilizing" - especially for a child.  Question: did you have a dog when you were growing up? What did it teach you? And are there any special stories about dogs you would recommend to our readers here? Do leave a comment, and thanks for visiting us here on Rogue Women Writers.

. . . Karna Small Bodman 

7 comments:

  1. Love dogs! I'm a sucker for any good dog story. Love that you named yours Gambit and Cammy! I know we spent considerable time in coming up with a dog names for ours.

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    1. What are your pups names? I've heard many great ones - it would be fun to know what others have chosen....Karna Small Bodman

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  2. I agree that caring for a pet is a great experience for a child--it teaches a concern for those who depend upon us, whether it's pets, children, spouses or co-workers!

    We had a Chow named Saigon--I don't know if that was because my husband watched too many war documentaries or if it was because the breed is from Asia.

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    1. Saigon -- very clever. I knew some folks from Great Britain who named their two dogs Maggie and Winnie. Then, I heard a funny story (that I'm actually using in a book) -- from a friend who named their two: Denise and De-Nephew! ...Karna Small Bodman

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  3. Love dogs! We've had so many over the years and of different breeds and some that simply showed up at our door (I presume they were dumped at a trestle about a mile from our house). Had no idea that poodles were bred as guard dogs!

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  4. We've had lots of poodles, primarily due to kid allergies. I wasn't aware they were guard dogs either, though they are great herders and hunting dogs.

    When I was a little girl, my dog, Blueberry, found me. He was a beautiful blond-and-white collie/husky mix. Very protective of me, though he was great with kids, people and other animals--except for bears and men who wore white shirts and cowboy hats. When he showed up at our door, he had one badly healed rib. I always though his previous owner had kicked him when he was a pup. He was about three when he arrived, and I was seven. He lived to be sixteen. Old for a big dog.

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  5. For anyone who wants to do a deep dive into the extraordinary skills of some dogs (and cats), a book called "Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home: Fully Updated and Revised" by Rupert Sheldrake will educate, fascinate and entertain. Through rigorous research methodology, Sheldrake and his team conducted videos of dog companions who seemed to "know" (intuit) when their human companions were going to come home, despite erratic and unpredictable schedules. The book has been revised since I bought it in the late '90s so I don't know what new studies are published. But it speaks to the dog (cat)/human connection in a way that grabs the heart!

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