Treat 'Em Like A Dog

Published 7:30 am Friday, August 13, 2010

Okay, I'll confess. I often have the TV on while I'm working in my office here at the Knott House. Hey, I'm in the news busi-ness and the morning shows offer updates on the hour and half-hour.

Granted, I've usually got my headphones on trying to hone quotes from tapes of meetings and interviews but every so often, I hear a tidbit from a talk show that grabs my attention. Like the other day when one host surmised that the old adage of treating somebody like a dog was no longer derogatory. She pointed-out that in all too many households being treated like a dog is a good thing.

She shared how many of us dog owners walk in the door and immediately greet our four-legged companions with friendly words and hands-on attention. And, while we are affectionately paying attention to Fido, we are virtually snubbing our spouse.

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Her comments hit me like a wet mop. SPLASHED AND SMACKED, I was guilty as described.

Of course I LOVE and CHERISH that man of mine. Heck, we've been married for two-thirds of my life and I wouldn't have it any other way. But, when I come in the door, our little dog, who is a cross between a dust mop and feather duster, greets me as if I'm his absolutely best and long lost friend. And, that's just when I've been outside for a few minutes working in the garden or doing other outside chores.

If I've been to the office or out for the day or evening, he, the dog not the hubby, combines his welcome with a few spins, several bouts of running circles around me, tail wagging that almost lifts him off the ground, and murmuring sounds that mimic a purring cat. Who could possibly ignore such a fuzzy and adorable welcome mat?

In comparison, the hubby offers a nod and ask how long it will be before dinner is ready. It's a good thing he usually flashes one of those great grins before he returns to his newspaper or clicks the remote.

Without a doubt, I think the morning talk show host made a very valid point about the way we treat our dogs…and the way we treat our spouses as well as other humans. Her point has been needling me for the last several days and has caused me to do some soul-searching on my relationships. Doggone it.

For sure, dogs have definitely wagged their way into our lives and homes. When I was growing up-back when dirt was mud-the only time the dog made it into the house was when mom and dad weren't home. Dogs were beloved pets but the ma-jority of them slept on porches or out in the yard. The lucky ones had homemade doghouses and if they were really top dogs, they'd have a few rags thrown in there for a makeshift bed. Other than taking dear old Rusty to the rabies vaccination clinic, my childhood canine made very few trips in the family car. By the way, that dear dog was 19 years old when he met his demise try-ing to cross the road to get to a would-be girlfriend. Although truly saddened by the dog's demise, my Dad enjoyed sharing Rusty's ambitious last day endeavor.

Today, many of us include our pups as live-in members of the household. I started to say that especially holds true for those of us who are empty nesters or no nesters; but, then I thought about both of my sons. Each has a dog that is definitely considered part of the family.

In the defense of the dog, their companionship is faithful and forgiving. They don't judge, criticize, question or complain. If we're late with their dinner, they don't hold it against us. And, they could care less if the dust bunnies are on the march.

Countless studies show they help lower blood pressure while lessening stress hormones and anxiety. Plus, if they are like my pooch, they serve as personal trainers by motivating their owners to walk at least a few blocks or a mile on most days.

However, the talk show host spurred me to question my priorities and ask myself whether I was treating the dog better than I do the hubby. I wondered how many of us are becoming too focused on our four-legged companions at the expense of our relationships with our spouses, families, and friends. After all, who couldn't use an affectionate hug, kind words, a few treats, a long walk and a back scratch?

Reckon there's any chance that if I shower the hubby with more attention and affection, he'd do a few spins and run circles around me when I come in the door? KNOTT MUCH.