Or horses. Or dogs. The last of which concerns us today.
Animal lovers are a different kind of people. We share a bond just because we happen to live with a dog. Or cat. Or, in my house, 3 lovely rescued felines and 2 lap-dog pit bulls. People who have never had a dog, or a cat, simply don’t understand how we put up with the mess and the hair and the toys all over the house. And cleaning up the poop. That really gets non-animal people going. And there is simply nothing we can do to explain it. You’ve got to live it to understand.
My mom and sister’s dog is a beautiful golden retriever named Maggie. They’ve had her since she was a fluffy three-month-old pup who liked to climb into the dishwasher. She turned 10 this July. She’s silly and stinky and playful and loves every other creature she’s ever come into contact with.
She also has cancer.
We found out about 8 weeks ago when she had a mass removed. Soft tissue sarcoma. Very common, especially in goldens. Moderately aggressive. Very likely to grow back when removed, which it has been now twice. So up Maggie went, an hour and a half north to a doggie oncologist to find out her best chance of beating the cancer is 4 weeks of daily radiation therapy. Without hesitation, Mama slapped down a credit card, and Sister called work to say she was taking a leave of absence to stay with Maggie until the sessions are over.
And the looks of disbelief commenced immediately. You can almost hear the subtext of the non-animal people:
You’re spending HOW MUCH? Isn’t 10 years old pretty good for a dog anyway? But it’s just a dog!
Just. A. Dog. Words I have never said, and can never fathom. You never hear anyone say “But it’s just your middle child/boyfriend/great-grandma/second wife, etc. etc.”
Ten years, Maggie has been a part of our lives, loving us. And she’s going to get the chance to stay for quite a few more. Because there is no such thing as just a dog.