Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Family Dog

Jessie is our family dog. Currently, he is our only pet. I do not foresee a future family pet, but Kulani keeps hinting at a cat, which I'm not so fond of. People generally reside in two camps of thought: those who like family pets and those who don't. Inside those two camps are two other camps: those who like furry pets indoors and those who like furry pets outdoors. Ours is a family of liking the family pet indoors. In the home I grew up in, the family dog had to stay outside ... on a long chain ... even in the dead of winter. But we have many fond stories of our family dogs in the Christenson household, just like Kulani has good stories about his family cats in the Fisher family. (His mom also did not allow inside pets.)
But back to Jessie. He was almost taken to the sausage factory on a few occasions. We got Jessie when he was 6 months old. For the first six months of his life, he stayed at the breeders home, who taught him how to be a good dog. So, not because of our doing, Jessie is basically the best dog in the whole world. However, he has his misbehaving moments. I used to watch children in my home, and sometimes the kids would open the door and Jessie would bolt out of the house and down the road faster than I could catch him. He got caught by the dog catcher on a few occasions.

So we bought him a shock collar and a periphery fence you bury underground. For some reason, holes existed in the periphery fence, because Jessie was able to escape from the electric fence. So then we invested in the radio fence. It's a little box that emits a circular electrical pulse that Jessie cannot crossover without getting a huge jolt. The safe zone is only in our yard. Ever since then, he has been the perfect dog. He can be both inside and outside the house. As I tell Kulani, Jessie and I have more of a working relationship. He knows I'm not huge into petting him and showing him a lot of love, but I'm the one he comes to when he needs to go outside or needs food and water. He goes to Kulani and the kids for love and affection.

There's a family in our neighborhood that Kulani and I try to emulate. We love this family, and all of their kids seem so well behaved and nice. We had them over for dinner once, and they told us, "We have pets because we're raising kids." We took that as our own philosophy. The value of a family pet is well-worth the effort. Children learn to love animals, which in turn helps them to love other living creatures including humans. You have to teach children how to be kind to animals and pet softly. A pet can be a child's best confidant; pets, especially dogs, are eager to have human touch and companionship. And it also teaches responsibility in feeding the pet.

Before we got the shock fence, Jessie ran away and came back with a badly damaged eye. The vet said it was likely from someone hitting him with a bat or something. That eye is now dead and blue looking, poor guy. But he doesn't act too bothered by it. Our vet, Dr. Coleman (AKA THE BEST VET IN THE WORLD!), said these types of incidents are common with dogs and not to worry too much about it. If it flares up, we visit Dr. Coleman, and he gives us a prescription that helps the swelling and charges us a mere pittance for the visit. If you live anywhere in Utah County, I must advise you take your animals to Dr. Coleman. He's cheap and excellent, and he understands that pets are pets; not children. Because when all is said and done, we'd pay as many thousands of dollars as possible to fix one of our children's eyes. But Jessie? He'll just have to make due with the one.