HAPPINESS: Dogs Can Give A New Outlook On Life | ShesIt

My Dog, Another Metaphor for Life

 

Jeter is the name of my almost-10-year-old Yorkie. He immediately brought joy to my family and my extended family too. 

 

He is named for the retired famous NY Yankees captain and short stop. Well, up until next week, Jeter is still my age. This mutual 60 something and I have had yet another year together. Mutt and Beth? We were told he was pure bred, but he is larger than those little ones, and has floppy ears. If we stick the ears up, let his face hair grow, like foo man chu, he really looks like a Yorkie. People still want to insist he’s got other things in him. I haven’t done a doggy DNA test. He’s so much more than his breed!

 

So, just like my children, I took possession of Jeter unconsciously. I am an over-thinker, so some actions that are “spontaneous” are good coming from gut decisions.

 

Early on, he was feisty and this was a predictor of things to come. We brought him home, put him on the kitchen floor said, “oh how cute” and then he let out—unproportioned to his little body—a loud bark. More like a shriek.   took him outside and he did “it” right on our driveway. That is the last time he went quickly and near our house. Stay tuned to read about long walks to get his system going.

 

When we first got him, he was almost as scary to me as much as raising my own human babies. That’s just me with my natural cold feet. 

 

Many friends and family members can testify to my concern for his picky appetite. He wasn’t a straight Kibble guy. I tried adding peanut butter. Now it is chicken and sweet potato that makes his Kibble taste better. What a prince!

 

I also had to walk him for a long time and distance to be “productive.” The worst thing that he still does is sometimes bark incessantly and mostly at me. As with everything else, there are tradeoffs, like his being so adorable.

 

Time passed and he became a permanent fixture in our lives. I did learn that it is the Yorkie nature to be chatty and/or barky. They are also known for digging. Back in the day, in Yorkshire England, these dogs were used for catching rats. I watched Jeter bury a small toy underground with his mouth and two paws and he did it so seamlessly. I could not find it. Years later with mowing the lawn, through falling snow and rain, this toy never emerged.

 

However, the plusses started to outweigh the minuses.

 

I did say I had to walk him what seemed like longer than any other dog to do his business. There is 9/10s of a mile around my prior neighborhood, which we did twice daily. Of course, this was through every kind of weather. It sometimes felt precarious. I always had my phone with me in case I slipped or fell or something worse. Once, I was talking on the phone and came face to face with a tree branch because I really wasn’t looking. I learned to focus straight ahead and down to the ground, where Jeter mostly lives anyway. This also taught me to be physically more tough and resilient.

 

My daughter Carolyn with Jeter.

I got a second look at nature, to witness daily, the regal trees, the differing chirps of birds, and the changing of seasons. I met people and made acquaintances with neighbors close and further away. We talked politics, weather, children—it was pretty social, sometimes, all quite healthy for pooch and me.

 

Sadly, Jeter turned out to have some ailments that required extra nurturing. The first one was what is called “cranial cruciate ligament” or CCL – like the ACL in humans, which affects the knee. I suspected injury when he would hop from one chair to another. I just thought, that’s a Yorkie. It was heartbreaking to help him recover. He had to wear the infamous cone, which he managed to chew off along with the bandage. He did recover quickly. He was about 4 years old.

 

I called him the energizer puppy, because he went right back to being feisty. Ironically, our son, then a teenager, had an ACL tear. This was so painful but he could commiserate with Jeter.  

 

Later, Jeter came down with pancreatitis. The giveaway was he wouldn’t touch his food, not even a steak. He had to be hooked up and treated intravenously over two days. What a mess that was; another heart-sinking time for all of us. But, this stubborn little guy survived again with flying colors. He was a model in survival.

 

So, Jeter still looks like a puppy because of his frisky disposition and floppy ears. But this Libra is turning 10, a full decade. We’ve moved to a more dog-friendly neighborhood. This is to a townhouse where there are even more dogs in the neighborhood, and our houses are closer together. We meet all kinds of people (and dogs too). Just this morning, I conversed with a neighbor and discovered our mutual love affair with the Beatles. Jeter and his dog “Bruce” (named after Bruce Springsteen) just hung out as we spoke.

 

I do think that as Jeter and I age, we have both mellowed. Jeter walks less of a distance and “performs” faster than before. He acclimated to the new home famously. He loves the open concept layout to our downsized home. It’s smaller and more manageable to both of us.

 

As Jeter reaches his 10th year, as with everything else, there is gave and take. Dogs require so much care—and they are expensive. But dogs teach us to live in the present and at this stage of our lives, we are both able to delight in it. He keeps me active and outside where I would not nearly be as much, but for being the “dog-walker-in-chief.”

 

Last, “dog” in Hebrew is called “Kelev.” Did you know that? This literally means “like or of the heart.” The word Kelev is found in the Bible (older testament). It must have referred to the dog’s ancestor, the wolf. Wolves became domesticated and found their way into the human heart. They evolved into canines, and this one, Jeter, has found his way into my heart too. How does your relationship with your dog(s) enrich your life?

 

Beth

Beth grew up in Camden, New Jersey and majored in Education and History at Rutgers University and later obtained a Masters in Family Therapy at Drexel University. She’s married to her husband of 41 years with two young adult children—a daughter and son—who both work in NYC. She loves movies, Netflix, books, history, linguistics and exploring the human condition. From her extensive background, she’s accumulated many stories and lessons and looks forward to shaping the conversation.