Friday, February 8, 2013 -- opie

"Happiness is a warm puppy."  --Charles M. Schulz

This is my baby boy, Opie.  He will turn 5 years old in March.  He has been with me through the worst times  of my life; he has been my rock.  I'm not quite sure what he is.  Everyone asks.  He is definitely mixed.  I call him "Brown Dog."  That is what he is.  He is a burrower and a cuddler.  He absolutely cannot live without blankets.  Sometimes he will stare at me, like in this picture, and whine.  There are only three reasons he does this: (1) he needs to go outside to do some business; (2) his water bowl is dry; or (3) He wants me to get a blankie for him and lift it so he can curl up beneath it.  Opie has obsessive compulsive disorder.  If you come to visit us, or if you are someone he hasn't met yet, he will bark at you until you allow him to smell your hair, your armpits, and your breath.  He gets very close, almost mouth to mouth, but he won't lick, he only sniffs.  Yes, he is a weirdo.

Opie has many nicknames, most of which he will answer to:  Monster, Munchie, Booger, Ope-Canope, Opie Canopie, Opus, Opie-Won-Kenobie, Pig, Dinosaur-Pig, Piggie, Son, Punk, Puppy... I am sure I am missing many more.  I would have to say that Monster and Munchie are the ones I use the most.

I've loved dogs my entire life.  When I was very young, I wanted to be a veterinarian because of my love of dogs, but that did not last, thanks to an Animal 911 video my parents borrowed from the library.  I think it was the vet's arm down the horse's rear end that did it... or maybe it was the bowel obstruction...

Opie came into my life in 2008, just when my parents' marriage was majorly deteriorating and my siblings were dealing with a lot of difficult issues.  I went to PetSmart to buy a toy for the family dog, Winnie, who has since passed, and instead, I walked out with a little brown thing in my arms.

On Saturdays, the local Humane Society set up camp and craftily so... they know that if you are walking in to buy something for your pet, you are most likely a sucker and will end up with another mouth to feed.

There was a huge crate in the center of the aisle with eight Jack Russell-Collie mixes.  They were all chunky and had white and tan fur.  But there was this super tiny little brown thing among them, in the center of the crate.  I picked him up and I could NOT let him go.  People came up and oogled over him and I wouldn't let anyone touch him.  I was determined to walk out with this puppy.  

And I did.  And I got in trouble, though there is only so much trouble you can get into when you hand your mom a puppy as cute as this one was:

Needless to say, I was banned from PetSmart by my mother.

I swore up and down that this dog was going to be unlike any dog we'd ever had in the family.  Our past dogs were not so well-behaved, had severe social anxieties and very little socialization with other animals.  Opie was going to be the best dog.  I was determined.  He would know tricks, he would be obedient, he would be sociable.  My mom didn't believe me.  I had the opportunity for my big "told-ya-so" moment later on.

Opie is obsessed with food.  He lives to eat.  He does have a few favorites though, things that make him go absolutely crazy... carrots, popcorn, chicken jerky.  His favorite room is the kitchen.  No need to ask him.

Opie is also the first dog I have ever known to appreciate ALL of his toys.  He prefers stuffed animals and squeaky things.  He thinks tennis balls are boring.  Kongs are boring unless they are filled with peanut butter. Much to my shame, Opie has at least 40 toys.  I am not responsible for all of them, but I am for sure responsible for most.  Sometimes Opie will just jump up and stick his head in the toy bin, finding something he hasn't played with in months and then plays with it as if it were brand new. Whenever I bring home a new toy for him, he has to show it to anyone who comes over or is in the room.  

I love my dog.  He brings so much joy to my life.  I often find great enjoyment out of just observing him and his mannerisms.  I spend a lot of time just watching Opie... an amount of time that has me scrambling when I catch a glance of the clock.  One of my favorite parts of his body is his chin.  It's smushy and cute.  He has perfect teeth and sometimes I like to pull his lips apart just to see the cute little things.  When he was a puppy I pulled and tugged on his body so he would never be bothered by being touched and he isn't, which is definitely good.  It helps when kids are around.  If I could take the perfect picture of Opie, he would be sitting regally in the passenger seat of my car, the sun beating down on his face and his eyes closed in pleasure.  His facial expression never changes, but he has the most expressive gold eyes.  

He is my little traveling buddy; the best car dog.  Everything in town is within ten minutes so if the car is running for more than ten minutes, Opie knows we are on a road trip and will just sleep in the back of the car.  He's the best boy.

I found this great graphic about 38 Benefits of Owning a Dog and I wholeheartedly agree with them all.  Some of my favorite benefits, as mentioned in the graphic:
  • Children with dogs have better self-esteem.
  • Dog owners often recover faster from illnesses.
  • Playing with dogs can elevate your levels of seratonin and dopamine, making you feel good and calm.
  • Dogs can raise your spirit and sense of well-being.
Some of my favorite quotes about dogs:
  • "Dogs are our link to paradise.  They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent.  To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring -- it was peace."  --Milan Kundera
  • "A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself."  --Josh Billings
  • "If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."  --Will Rogers
  • "If you don't own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life."  --Roger Caras
I don't know what I would do without Opie and I dread the day that he will no longer be with me. I know that wherever I am, however old I will be, I cannot live without a dog.  It's just a fact of life for me.  

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