The short answer to the posed question is YES. Clearly, in my home and across America, it seems that the essence of dog is the way in to almost everything. As I approach the anniversary of writing my blog with entries about many emotional, adoption-related topics, no entry has surpassed the readership I received when I posted about my dearly departed yellow lab, Jasper, last summer. And it seems that everywhere I look– in real life, on TV, and around the internet– people include their dogs in almost every aspect of their lives.
Jasper was the perfect family dog for his entire eleven-year life. As a puppy, he quickly learned that nipping at my two sons (then ages seven and nine) was not going to make them play with him more, and he learned to sleep alone in his crate when the whining did not successfully bring me downstairs each night to free him. At one year old, he was the perfect displaced youngest child when my newly adopted, infant daughter entered our world as he protected, warmed and entertained her. He learned how to make us smile more often, throw the ball for longer periods of time, and offer him treats which he never tired of. He enjoyed watching television with the family reacting positively to dogs, horses and elephants (and ignoring cats and rodents) when they appeared on the screen. His passing nine months ago has not only been painful because we all miss him terribly, but since then, I have been tormented daily by my entire family to get another dog.
My stubborn resistance to getting another dog is simple: We will not find another Jasper. His personality was so wonderful, calm and compassionate; I cannot imagine that we would luck out twice. No other dog will fill the void that was left by Jasper who was just as happy when we arrived home late for his dinner or after dark, having forgotten to leave lights on for him. My family is convinced another dog is the solution to our sadness and will help us heal after the loss of Jasper. I am not at all convinced we are emotionally ready for another dog, although the intrinsic benefits of a dog, especially for kids, are amazing. In addition, even though they all fervently promise to care for the dog themselves, I am the one who will most often feed, train, pick up after and worry about a new dog. On the other hand, now that my daughter is in her tween years, perhaps a dog would help her learn responsibility for something other than her iPod.
As I look around online at other blogs, I notice the pictures of dogs used to accompany posts, which may or may not be about dogs. It has become apparent that readers of all kinds like to see, hear and read about dogs, whether they have one or not. Case in point, Heather B. Armstrong’s marvelous blog features her adorable, tolerant mutt Chuck: http://dooce.com/2013/02/04/attention-people-of-the-internet/. What other creature would tolerate a pile of cooked noodles on his nose for a picture?
Before my sweet Jasper passed away last May, it never occurred to me to feature him in my blog to build my readership. After he left us Memorial Day weekend and I wrote about him for the first time, my blog readers had more comments and passed along my URL to friends more than with any other post before or since then. Even topics about adoption, parenting, family issues, holidays, shootings and personal brushes with death have not compared to the popularity of my post mourning Jasper. Had I known, he would have been my star for all to enjoy. As it stands now, he is just a wonderful memory and another loss for our family to contend with day in and day out. One day, I will relent and get another dog because I’m convinced it’s going to come down to me or the dog, and I can only assume from experience that the dog will win. They always do.