19" in height;
Photo by Melisa Kroening
Pet companionship is one of the most distinguishing characteristics of human behavior. We try to make pets out of everything from ants to zebras, or in some cases these creatures are maybe trying to make pets out of us. But the fact remains, humans are more interactive in benevolent relationships with animals of other species, and in more ways than any other beings.
I know some dogs like some cats, and some geese like some donkeys, but these relationships pale in comparison to our busy husbandry habits. But as it happens, no animal has endeared itself to humans quite like the dog.
Why not a cat? Ask any dog person. I am very fond of cats, and they are pretty fond of using me for what I'm worth. But I am just one slip up from alienating myself from the affections of most any cat. They aren't loyal. If I slip on a bit of snow on the entry tile, and fall and hurt myself, any cat that witnessed the event would distrust me for a good while.
"Watch out for that guy," they tell their friends. "He can get pretty wild. I kind of don't like him, and I recommend you do the same."
But a dog would come and see if I'm okay. If it could, it would help me up, and bite anybody who would kick me while I'm down. Dogs are loyal to a fault.
My piece "Lola" is a commemoration piece requested by friends. She was a Border Collie, and a loyal companion, and earned her way into the hearts of her people. In her later years, she, like so
many of our pets, began to have health issues that were challenging, and at one point received 170 stitches on her back and sides, to keep her together.
As part of the request for this piece, I was asked to capture the spirit of this very serious and loyal dog, and also to make clear how cobbled together she was in every effort to keep her around.
I won't ask, but I think I know that this dog, also like so many of our pets, became very valuable in her waning years. Like every cat we have had, they start out free, and then with some shots, some simple but meaningful surgery, and some worming medicine, they were worth a hundred bucks. A few years later, and a few events later they were worth several hundred dollars, and by the time they died, we could have bought a new car with what we'd invested in them.
But that is the way we feel about our animals, and it's not about to change any time soon. If there is anything as loyal as a dog, it is probably it's human.