Posted by Janine Allen at Friday, August 1st, 2008.
I like being in a small town after spending the winters in the city. The lack of traffic, stoplights and Starbucks is a daily reminder that one doesn’t need all that java juice to keep up with their fast cars. Besides, the locals all drive trucks and the maximum speed limit within the whole town is 30 mph, and oftentimes only 20. Fast food means wait 30 minutes for your food then eat it real fast.
The purse dogs and status dogs are missing here. Dust-covered cattle dogs and retrievers are transported in the back of pickups or flatbeds with no restraint system. They are left for hours in vehicles while their owners share ranch stories over cold beer at the local bar at day’s end. Behind dirty, nose-smudged windows, they occasionally bark at passersby. After herding sheep and cattle all day they still find enough energy to stay alert and protect their owner’s property.
My city dogs wouldn’t know what to do without their three hour mid-day nap. If they so much as step wrong on a rock or have a burr stuck to their belly, they await my rescue. If I leave them in the car for a quick stop to the grocery store they would use the opportunity for an additional nap. Afterall, the alarm system will protect the car.
Just what makes our city dogs and our small town dogs happy? Would that small town border collie like to sleep on my couch, get a weekly bath, and ride seat-belted on leather seats in an air-conditioned car with windows rolled up? Would my tender-footed, thick-bodied Labs enjoy hours of running under the hot sun, over rocky soil and through prickly sagebrush dodging angry bovine hooves?
I always enjoy seeing the different lifestyles that dogs have and how, through their adaptive abilities and selective breed-types, they enrich the lives of their owners. It’s easy to assume that a dog might not be getting enough exercise, lives in a house that is too small, or isn’t receiving enough training. When I observe the bond between a dog and owner, living by any large or small town standards, eating bargain bag dog food or filet mignon, sporting an unkempt coat or fresh coiffure, I see what they are providing for each other – a respectful friendship with life-enhancing qualities beyond our physical existence.