I was not a “dog person” growing up. We always had a cat, present and aloof, requiring only periodic feeding and litterbox changes. I do recall two brief dog adoption attempts. In both cases, our little family seemed ill-equipped to be pup parents. One was a runner that bolted out the front door anytime someone dare crack it open to greet a visitor or grab the mail. The other would get so overwhelmed whenever a human appeared, its excited little body would produce myriad pee puddles. I was also afraid of some dogs; big, barky ones with ferocious faces or names. Plus, all that drool and chewed shoes, who needed it?
That was all before I grew up and was “talked into” adopting a family dog. Like many parents, getting a dog was “for the kids,” but I knew, or thought I knew, what I was getting into this time. As a grownup, I was able to make informed decisions about what type of dog would work best “for me,” because I knew I would be its primary caregiver. I read books and researched training techniques but remained a bit nervous about making a commitment to a creature that I might resent. I even cried a little the first time I took it to the vet, me and her riding in the car, both of us a little afraid and unsure of the future.
That was nearly 12 years ago. Our little dog (not big, but definitely barky) has been a gift to us all in so many ways. In fact, I no longer can imagine ever not owning a dog. She’s companionship and comfort. She encourages physical activity and has opened the door to our meeting other dog owners, lovely people we would have otherwise simply passed by on a park trail. Cats are still cool. But dogs … they are delightful.
It seems that during the pandemic, many people have discovered the joys of dog ownership. So much so, that local writer and recent dog owner Barbara Swanke of Edina offered to share her story of pandemic pet ownership, along with input from other people she knows who’ve adopted dogs in the past year. When you read Swanke’s pandemic pet parent tales, you’ll sense the joy discovered in the midst of a very challenging time.
Angela Johnson, editor