3 ways my dog makes me a happier human

betty ming liu Inspiration, Relationships 16 Comments

That’s right — I have a dog! Up until just recently, we’ve referred to Rosebud as my daughter Gabi’s dog. But our busy teenager isn’t home much. Meanwhile, me and the bow-wow are together practically 24-7. That’s how Rosebud became mine.

Yay! Even though there have been several beloved canines in my past, not one of them belonged just to me. Having my own dog is sort of a kid’s dream-come-true. Never too late, right?

So here are three ways that Rosebud has transformed my life…

She ALWAYS adores my company: What a self-esteem boost. Since I work at home, it’s a such pleasure to have a friendly soul following me around the kitchen and sleeping on a pillow near my desk. While the cats hang with me too, they’re wired differently. The purring and snuggling is lovely but it’s not the same as the Bud’s wild, tail-wagging enthusiasm for all things Betty.

She helps me keep a routine: Being a creative person means that it’s very easy for me to lose track of time. When I really get into writing/blogging/drawing/painting/reporting, I forget to take breaks. But Rosebud likes to be up and fed by around  7 a.m. She also needs her mid-day and evening walks. Thanks to her, dinner time has become a much more regularly-scheduled event too. Of  course, taking her out in bad weather and early mornings isn’t always fun. But the whole point of having a routine is staying connected to reality day in and day out — keeping things real.

Our daily walks clear my head. Being a city girl from Manhattan means that I would rather hail a taxi than walk. But now, my little buddy and I try to take a brisk, half-hour stroll every day. At first, it was such a chore. Now, it’s one of my favorite activities. Rosebud so clearly enjoys strutting through the neighborhood. I enjoy watching her. It puts me in a timeless zone that allows my mind to drift. So many issues in my life have been sorted out during these daily wanderings.

We adopted Rosebud back in May from our local animal shelter, Pets Alive Westchester in Elmsford, N.Y. Her file identified her age as three or four years old. I eventually took her to our vet for a check-up, who said that our dog was actually between 10 and 15! The mystery continued when we recently went back to the shelter for a visit, where the vet there looked her over and guessed that our old girl might actually be seven or eight…

Oh, who cares. The point is that Rosebud is timelessly youthful — just like me. Haha! By the way, she came with the name “Rosebud.” Initially, we found it odd that she never answered when we called. That’s when we realized that she’s also deaf! Still, it’s all good; we’ve developed a sign language that seems to be working out well. The fact that she can’t hear my voice is okay because nobody listens to me in this house anyway.

P.S. — If you’d like to catch up on an earlier post about adopting Rosebud at the shelter, here’s the link. :)


Note: Oct. 22, 2013, my daughter drove us to the vet and we put our darling dog to sleep. She was done in by both her heart murmur and kidney failure. Rosebud loved to eat but at the end, the various meds she was on made her so nauseous that she had lost a few pounds. It was time to stop the suffering. Below is what I posted on Facebook. RIP, old girl. You were a great friend who taught me stuff about love and loyalty that I had never experienced before. xo

Rosebud on Facebook

Comments 16

  1. Oh Betty! I believe that dog is God spelled backwards – and God is love. Ergo, a dog gives us true and unconditional love. With a canine companion, a person will never feel lonely and will always have a purpose.
    Have you heard about http://www.pawsny.org – Pets Are Wonderful Support? This nonprofit organization provides pet care assistance to individuals experiencing both physical and financial obstacles so that they can keep their pets and continue to benefit from the human-animal bond. Their focus is on helping seniors, individuals with disabilities, and individuals suffering from permanent or temporary illness. That way people get to keep their beloved pets instead of having to give them up.

  2. love the trenchcoat. at least she’s small. my recently-adopted dog, billed as 6 years old but actually closer to 9 or 10, has legs like stilts….which has led to trouble…..

    1. Post

      andrea, love the d-o-g and g-o-d wordplay. i actually feel like my mom, who died to years ago, sent rosebud to me as her loving messenger. my mom was pretty deaf too. and even when she had her hearing, she hardly ever listened to me…. thanks also for the link.

      mj, i know there will be health issues ahead. we actually cleared up a bunch of problems that rosebud came with. she was in good health overall, but had a kennel cough, ear infection and intense itching that had her chewing on her legs and back. our vet helped. so did changing her food. i now feed homemade mush to our entire crew of three cats and one dog. they all seem to like it.

  3. There are, I think, 2 kinds of people in this world – those with souls and those without. Among the chacteristics of those with souls is a genuine love of animals and a respect for them as fellow citizens of this world. One of my wonderful adopted sons, who was brought into our family when he was a freshman in college, was at that time volunteering at the local animal shelter. He asked how he could be useful and was told the animals needed companionship and could he spend some time with the cats? He proceeded to go to the shelter twice a week for the next year, sit on the floor in the cat room and read them the whole of Anna Karenina. He said the cats seemed to enjoy it. They clustered around. When I heard that I said to myself “oh, this is a kid I’m going to love – how could you not?” How we relate to animals, I think, is a window into our own souls.

  4. Post

    toby, what an irresistible image of your son. i wish someone would read “anna karenina” to me — or any book, for that matter! being read to is such a soothing experience. sometimes when i leave the house, i keep npr on the radio for my animals.

    my new job has me and the bud fighting to carve out quality time. so lately, i’ve been taking her with me to my weekly appointment with the shrink. the shrink has a little dog too. we start the session off with each of them getting a biscuit bone from my therapist. he says that even though rb can’t hear, it’s very obvious that she knows when she’s being spoken to. once the snacks have been dispensed, we all settle down to do the work, sometimes with rb in my lap. am i really nuts, or what? :)

  5. Betty, I’ve actually been thinking about this exact topic lately. I am convinced I need a pet– I think single girls especially need a furry companion to love. But considering that I’m going to graduate school in the fall, I don’t think I’ll have time for a puppy then, so I don’t want to make a commitment that I can’t keep. How do you manage to keep the puppy company when you have to be out and about to report? Cats are pretty independent, but I know puppies get lonely if you’re not around.

    btw, Rosebud is adorable. And I love her name :)

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    isha, we didn’t realize it but we ended up adopting what’s called a senior dog. she’s already housebroken & fairly mellow. she spends a lot of time sleeping. of course, when a senior gets old, there are health issues. and some folks specifically want to adopt older dogs with needs.

    we started out volunteering at the local animal shelter, which i strongly recommend. it’s a chance to get realistic about animals and see who is out there. maybe that will help you figure things out with the help of the shelter folks.

    and forget about a puppy — i don’t have the energy or time to housebreak a young dog! an older one who is sleep most of the day might be happier with you. then again, even cats that sleep all day can get lonely. so maybe the local shelter is a good place to start.

    good luck and yes, i do think animal companions are great for everyone. :)

  7. I would definitely do a test run at the local shelter. Find out if you are truly a dog person. Remember, what you have have by the tail is social animal with a very rigid hierarchical structure to their lives. Think wolf pack, but domesticated.

    The risk with a dog, or any other “companion animal” out there is to anthropomorphize the beastie. A dog is a dog, and does things because that’s the dog’s programing. Rosebud follows Betty around because to ‘Bud, Betty is the Alpha Female and that means the leader of the pack. Always understand that with a dog, there is a rigid dominant- subordinate interaction going on. You, the human, are either the top dog .. or you are not. Get the power dynamics wrong with a dog; and your life can become hell. The size of the dog does not matter. Very small dogs can and do rule over their human care-takers.

    One of the great things about working at the shelter is that the care-givers there understand dogs as dogs. They can teach you what makes a good dog; ei a good human that understands dogs as, well, dogs. Dogs do make great companions once you learn their doggy perspective on life. It is a question of temperament, you and the dogs.

    Me, I am a cat person. I prefer the dynamic the cat presents. For the cat, you are it’s mom. So a cat will do things for you because it wants to please mom. Plus, being nocturnal, they are up when you come home from work, and lounging about sleeping when you are out. Believe it or else a cat can be trained to the leash, so even a small apartment is fine for a cat. Compared to a dog, cats are much lower maintenance as well. Short-haired breeds are best in this regard; but Maine Coons are also easy to take care of as well. (It’s that barn-cat DNA)

    If you do go pure bred, learn the breed of cat or dog. If you go for the mystery mutt, the shelter can again be a life saver by teaching you how to figure out if your tiny little pup will grow into something quite a bit bigger.

    One word of warning though. The shelter does present a risk. One of those wee animals may look you straight in the eye; and you will be done for. Not the worst thing in the world to happen, as Ms Betty will attest to.

  8. Betty, your dog is a cutie! I have a dog too and she’s one of the best things to ever happen to me. She’s a handful and loves to chase the wildlife she sees when we take walks, and has run off after geese more than once. But when I sit down to write, and she lies down beside me and snores, it’s just precious and my heart melts! Her doggy smell is now one of my favorite things in the world. Dog is indeed G-o-d spelled backward, and it’s so fitting because they’re so divine. ~~Love and peace on this beautiful day.

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    james, you’re right — being the alpha female is definitely part of dog ownership for me! the cats are indeed practically maintenance-free compared to rosebud. and yes, the shelter is dangerous because there is the constant temptation to bring home another pet!

    thanks for visitin, dreamerx. your doggie sounds like a love too. not sure rosebud’s smell is my favorite — except when she’s been bathed (which isn’t often enough!).

  10. Good to hear you are enjoying your dog! I grew up with dogs (and cats) One of my great great grandfathers was hired to herd sheep for Brigham Young. (Then he go to the US only to discover that all of the sheep ran off!) Currently I don’t really have a dog except I paid half for my neighbors daughter to get a Labrador four years ago. I have been around a couple labs. My parents had a dog named Casey. It was fun taking him for walks. He was trained to stay right at your side.Casey would hold the leash in his mouth while we went for a walk. The law say they have to be on a leash but says nothing about holding the other end of the leash.
    I think I have grown more partial to larger dogs as I have gotten older. I think they are easier to care for. Of course I have a quarter acre of land in my home. My last dog was a cross between a Catahoula and a Grey Hound. She was so fast! She was also a ball hound. But you have to keep a working dog like that occupied or they find their own fun. I remember the neighbor kid knocking on my door a few times to inform me that my dog was on his roof! I would throw a tennis ball over the garage and she would be next to me in no time at all.(she also carved ruts in the grass) If you didn’t throw the ball again she would sit there and drop it on your foot till you did!
    I think before you get a dog or pick one out it is probably a good idea to study their temperament and personality. Working breeds are usually more high strung. My friend first tried a Rat Terrier which had separation anxiety. She left it home the first day and it tore the house up. So she took it back, which I thought was really unfair to the dog. The lab puppy was a good choice. Although Labs usually have a lot of puppy in then till they are about four years old.
    It is also a good idea to find out what is not good for your dog. For example chocolate. Dogs love it but it makes their hearts race and can be fatal to small breeds.Onions are also bad. Dogs require less protein in their diet than cats. (some dogs you have to what closely or they will eat cat poop)
    Most of the people I know that have dogs keep them as working animals either as retrievers, pointers or to work with their livestock. One of my friends has a Bedlington Terrier, which looks like a baby lamb. He raised it with the sheep so it treats the heard as his pack. It is very mild for a Tarrier but it is fearless and fast enough to chase off a Badger or Fox.
    Anyway, good luck with you dog!

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    what sweet dog stories, brian! i’m looking at all the canine-related comments on this post. it’s so clear that the emotions that dogs stir in us have the power to humanize us. and thanks for reminding us about the dangers of chocolate for dogs.

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