By Jill Pertler
When you no longer have a dog the world is a different place.
The barks of other dogs resound and seem louder than they were before. When a neighbor’s dog barks and wakes you in the early morning or late night it doesn’t so much annoy, but provokes a twinge of sadness.
When you no longer have a dog you don’t have to worry about dog-hair dust bunnies or running out of dog treats. You don’t ever have to read the label on dog food for the hundredth time to make sure real meat is the number one ingredient. You can save money at the grocery store because dog food is expensive.
When you no longer have a dog you notice other people with their dogs. It seems as though everyone else has one. They are walking on the street or playing fetch or posting cute dog photos on social media. Sometimes you scroll through them, other times you try not to.
When you no longer have a dog you can walk freely through your yard without constantly having to look down to avoid stepping in the doggy doo – although this takes some getting used to. It’s hard to walk freely without looking down when you’ve done so for so more than a decade.
When you no longer have a dog you can take an evening stroll without bringing a plastic bag along. You don’t have to pause at every fire hydrant or telephone pole or carry the plastic bag home once it is full.
When you no longer have a dog and the humans in your life are unavailable, sometimes you take walks alone.
When you no longer have a dog leaving the house is simplified. You can be gone all day without having someone let the dog out or feed her lunch. You don’t have to secure a spot at the kennel when you go on vacation. There’s a certain freedom to that.
When you no longer have a dog there is no one to wag her tail when you come home. And when you return after a long weekend, you don’t have to worry about anyone peeing on the floor because they are so glad to see you.
When you no longer have a dog shoes don’t get chewed. No one chases the cats or drags her butt across the carpet. There are no dog toots to smell and you don’t have to be concerned about anybody ransacking the neighbor’s garbage and coming home with a tuna can stuck to her tongue.
When you no longer have a dog, you don’t have anyone begging for a tummy rub. No one kisses you all over your face or sniffs you in unseemly places.
When you no longer have a dog, sometimes you dream about dogs and sometimes even about the one you used to have. Sometimes dogs can talk in your dreams. Those are the good dreams.
When you no longer have a dog and you hear creaks or noises from upstairs you automatically think it is your dog and then remember she is gone and it couldn’t possibly be her. You wonder how long it will be before creaks and noises become just creaks and noises.
When you no longer have a dog, suddenly puppies take on a whole new level of cuteness and you think, “Maybe,” but then just as soon, “Maybe not,” because you know your heart isn’t ready yet. It may never be. But you never know.
All this – good and bad – is okay, because if you no longer have a dog it means that at one time you did. In doing so, you experienced unconditional love and a companionship like none other. That is a gift. And I believe if you no longer have a dog, it is a gift waiting for you in heaven. Because all dog owners understand: it wouldn’t be heaven if dogs weren’t there.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.