Cats and Dogs
48% of us have dogs.
I had to be persuaded to get our dog, Koa. Before you stop reading this and write me off as a bad anti-dog person, give me a minute to explain why.
16 years ago, my husband and I got married and moved to a tiny New York City apartment. I wanted to have a baby, my husband countered with a dog. After thinking of how many hours he was going to be spending working at his new job, and I would be the one waiting for a dog to go before work, and after work, and how small our apartment was, a dog didn’t seem practical. So I settled on a cat.
There happened to a be a great animal shelter around the corner. After going in and trying to decide which cat “spoke to us” of the three rows of cats, and finding the entire experience weird, two paws grabbed my husband’s leg. Those cats belonged to the cat who came home with us.
Briscoe (the actor who played Lennie Briscoe on Law and Order was a huge supporter of the shelter) has been in our lives since 3 weeks after we got married. He was my first baby. I used to cook him roasted chickens, have my friends come over and read him magazines when we were out of town so she wouldn’t get lonely and I once took him get professional Christmas pictures made during a snowstorm. I was very close to becoming a crazy cat lady. Then I got pregnant with my daughter and forgot to feed the cat when my husband on a business trip.
Briscoe seemed to be ok with the arrival of my daughter. He took naps in her crib and would lick her head during tubby time. When she became a toddler, he fascinated her, and she would follow him around until he would eventually jump over one of the numerous baby gates and runoff.
When I got pregnant with my son, Briscoe went on strike. We had moved a few months earlier our current house and he seemed fine. Then, he did not. He expressed his displeasure all over the house. I will leave it to your imagination to fill in the blanks. I tried everything to get him to stop, but eventually buying new bathmats every week got ridiculous.
I even hired a “cat behaviorist” which is a nice term for a kooky lady with a boxy of kittens in her van. She who came over and told me the cat was sad because he sensed he was being replaced. By this time, I knew I was having a boy and the status update on my cat’s feelings about my pregnancy seemed well, silly.
When my kids got older, they started asking about a dog. For years, I kept saying, “When Briscoe goes to the big cat box in the sky”. This changed when I took my then 14-year-old cat into the vet last summer to find out that Briscoe was in perfect health minus for being a tad chubby (he needs to work on his boredom eating) and could easily live to be 20!! I did not want to miss the window of my kids being interested in a family dog.
Halloween has been a special day in our family for many reasons, one of the main reasons is it is my daughters birthday. We found our dog on Halloween of 2016. It was a sign that our dog was meant to be. Koa wasn’t ready to be picked up until Thanksgiving but life has not been the same since.
Life with Koa has been interesting. She is the most loving, energetic and adorable dog ever! It was not necessarily the best timing to get a dog in the beginning of the winter and vizsla’s hate being wet. This resulted in having to coax Koa to “go” under an umbrella in a blizzard.
Koa thinks I am the smartest person ever, I can just tell. The kids love her, and she is always around when my 12-year-old had a rough day in middle school, or if my 8-year-old is bored.
She was not the best student in obedience school, in fact, she was the worst. I would leave the classes a sweaty frustrated mess. I had to stop taking her and do the training at home. She has learned the basics and if I tell her to go to one of the kid’s rooms, she will go to the kid I am referring to, so she speaks enough human for me.
I wanted to research the Science behind why we love Koa so much, and I was thrilled at what I found.
A feel-good chemical is released when we interact with dogs. Oxytocin a hormone produced in the brain that is associated with nurturing and attachment, similar to the feel-good feedback that bolsters bonding between parent and child. This might explain why adults start to talk to dogs like a baby when they see them!
Domestic dogs (Per Psychology Today) are descended from wolves so recently that they remain wolves in all biological essentials, including their social behavior.
Wolf packs have some intriguing parallels with human families:
-They are territorial.
-They hunt cooperatively. Does Costco count?
-Pack members are emotionally bonded and greet each other enthusiastically after they have been separated. So true, Koa has been known to knock me over when I get home with all the love.
-40% of owners identify their dog as a family member.
As we get closer to Valentine’s Day, think of all the love we have in our lives.
I want to hear your pet stories
Briscoe and Koa’s Owner
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