The phrase, “a dog’s life” brings to mind images of want, hard work, misery, or mistreatment. As I sit here, on Labor Day, writing this and looking at my dog, Mona, I realize that what I want right now is the life she has.
Our culture has changed the way it looks at dogs, especially in the United States, but the language hasn’t caught up.
Oh, Mona hasn’t always had it this easy. She was found running on the side of the road with her puppy. There is so much of her life before I adopted her I don’t know about, and I’m sure it wasn’t very pleasant. Maybe that is why she seems to really appreciate the life of ease she now leads.
Now she is well fed, comfortably housed, able explore the yard pretty much at will, hugged often, surrounded by toys, and able to perch herself on her favorite spot – the back of my couch. All she has to do in return is love me back (something she does superbly), behave, and put up with the cat (something she does with a lot more grace than I do).
All this is a far cry from the hard work and deprivation usually associated with a dog’s life. Mona may be more spoiled than some dogs. Then again, she’s nowhere near as spoiled as other dogs (notably those of some celebrities).
There are still a lot of dogs out there who work for a living. Regrettably, there are far too many dogs (and other animals) who are neglected and mistreated. But the new paradigm, especially if you believe pet food commercials, is that dogs are part of the family. They are to be taken care of, if not coddled.
Even on a day when I’m not “working,” I still have to catch up on house work and yard work. When Mona wants to play, I have to wash clothes, mow the lawn, dust, and get rid of the “stuff” that seems to pile up despite my best efforts.
Mona never worries about where her kibble comes from. She is convinced the kitchen cabinet miraculously and endlessly produces doggie treats. I’m the one who provides. I’m the one who works to make it all come to pass.
Don’t get me wrong; I accept all those responsibilities and, most of the time, I do it gladly. It’s just that, once in awhile, especially when my To Do list gets out of control, I look over at Mona, curled up and snoring, and envy her.
Then I think, “I wish I had my dog’s life.”