My family had a lot of dogs when I was growing up. When I was about six years old, my mom convinced my dad to sell their house in the suburbs and buy a house in the country, so their four children could enjoy rural delights. A San Francisco native, my dad had never lived in a place without sidewalks and streetlights, but he gave it a go.
Then 11 years old, my brother most appreciated the opportunity to build tree forts, and later, to ride motorcycles in all sorts of dirt and mud with his friends. My sister Sue, then 12, got a horse and made friends in 4-H. My sister Pam, then 13, also joined 4-H, but I think that was mostly about flirting.
My favorite part of living in the country was the dogs. We started off with just one or two, but since my parents weren’t very knowledgeable about canine reproduction (most significantly, how to prevent it) our family’s dog population ballooned at times into the teens, and one memorable summer, into the twenties, when we had three female dogs with litters at the same time.
I know, I know. Today, this is shameful. Heck, it was probably shameful even at that time, the early 70s, contributing to the pet overpopulation problem so blatantly. But I was too young to be anything but thrilled by the puppy booms. Any time I walked out the door, I had an abundant supply of canine friends to accompany me on adventures. Although there were no other girls my age living within miles of our home, I don’t recall ever feeling lonely. Talk about unconditional love and companionship; I had it in spades, from all my canine pals.
I was prompted to recall my youth with dogs as a result of a request I received from Dr. Larry Lachman, an animal behavior consultant based in Carmel, California. Dr. Lachman, who is also a psychologist, is conducting a national survey of dog owners for his next book. If you would like to contribute, please answer the following four questions:
1. What dogs did you grow up with or have currently? (Names, breeds, age, etc.)
2. How did these dogs affect, influence, or impact either your family of origin, you, or your current relations?
3. Specifically, what life lessons about love, relationships, communication, affection, and values have you learned from your dog(s)?
4. Could you provide me with one or two true stories that illustrate your dog(s) positive impact on you and how you relate to other people or your family?
Please e-mail your answers to DrLarry@FamilyAnimal.comor mail them to Dr. Larry Lachman, Family Animal, PO Box 22151, Carmel, CA 93922.
I can’t wait to read the book!