Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of adopting Frankie, my first dog, ever.  In honor of that occasion, I was going to write a paean to the joys of life with a dog. Not coincidentally, however, the day Frankie was brought over to my house —  in rescuer parlance, his “forever home,” a phrase I detest not only for its Hallmark soppiness, but also its inherent falsity; nothing, not even diamonds, is forever  — was also my birthday. Much as I love writing, it’s also work, something I was determined not to do on my birthday this year.

I also thought of spending the day with Frankie but he’s really not very sentimental  and wouldn’t have appreciated the gesture (except in the general sense of liking to have me around to cater to him).  He would, on the other hand, have been very annoyed to discover that I put on my other hat, food writer, and drove up to Scottsdale for an amazing lunch at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak (hint: Kobe beef and sirloin were involved) in which he didn’t partake. And hell no, there were no leftovers.

So the task of doing a retrospective fell to me today.

I then contemplated writing about what each year of our lives together would signify — you know, like kibble for the first year being the equivalent of a human paper anniversary — but soon started wondering whether I needed to factor in the seven dog years equals one human year formula, which has been modified anyway. This began to involve higher math.

More to the point, the idea of our anniversary described in human romantic terms began to seem a bit creepy. I also feel that way about the term “pet parent,” incidentally, with its implications of interspecies interbreeding. If I am Frankie’s “mom” — a term I never used to refer to my actual mother — who is his “dad”? What would I have had to do with him and why don’t I recall the occasion? And why doesn’t Frankie resemble me in the slightest?

So then it occurred to me that I addressed this question in — shameless self promotion alert — my new book, AM I BORING MY DOG.

2. Will getting a dog change my life dramatically?

Yes, and irrevocably– but in a good way. Unless you have a tiny, flinty heart, in which case you shouldn’t inflict your mean self on a dog or any other living creature.

It struck me that I used to worry that maybe I did have a tiny, flinty heart, that I was incapable of the sacrifice involved in caring for another creature. After all, I’d never wanted a human child (yes, I’m an unnatural woman; get over it).

I was wrong.

Not only did the depth of my feeling for this funny alien creature throw me for a loop; I was also surprised by my ability to cope with the day-to-day details of his care. To use an extreme example, when I discovered Frankie had diabetes first I threw myself on the floor and wept. And then I got on with the task of dealing with it.  Am I crazy about giving him shots and fussing over his diet? No way. But I sure am pleased to discover that caretaking is not beyond my capabilities.

Hmmm. Even if the term gives me the heebie jeebies, maybe I was cut out to be a dog mom after all.

5 thoughts on “Frankie: The first five years”

  1. Before adopting Archie I believed that I could enjoy a dog, but could never deal with his droppings. I contacted a service that would scoop the poop on a regular (and costly) basis. I brought him home. Poor guy was emaciated and afraid to eat. By the time he finally ate, and then elimated, I blessed the soil upon which the result fell, and have never turned back. Am still completely squeamish in all other ways.

    Ah, to love a dog!

  2. My first cat taught me how to love. My dog Teddy Bear, who I rescued up in the mountains, greets me every morning with such gratitude that my heart overflows.

    Funny column! and, Happy Birthday! that steak sounds good.

    1. Pet power — it’s amazing!

      And thanks for your birthday wishes. The steak — and everything else — was wonderful.

  3. Like you I never had any biological clock ticking, urging me to breed and I wondered about all the fuss parents made over their children’s accomplishments, quirks and sniffles. But after living with Cass (my sweet Havanese) for eight years I can say that I too gloat over how well she popped, how silly she is for shredding another Visa bill and suffer terribly when she suffers. When I leave for work in the morning I kiss her first and then my still sleeping husband and my heart still fills with love every day when I come through the door and she is absolutely overjoyed to see me. Life is good.

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