Hump Day: Owning a dog can certainly change your life for the better

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

A year ago this week, I hopped in my vehicle along with my mother and two aunts for a drive down to Polana Kennel near Woodville, N.S. After contemplating the idea for a few years, I decide it was time to get a dog.

This would be the first dog of my adult life, having had two previous dogs during my childhood. After adopting a shelter cat in 2003 and then another in 2004, I thought perhaps it was time to shake things up a bit. I did my research and knew I wanted four things in a dog. First, I wanted a dog that didn’t shed (I would literally be bowled over by tumbleweeds if I didn’t since the cats shed like crazy). I also wanted a dog that was an adult with an already predicable personality. They also had to be small and, of course, good with cats.


Further research showed that I would be happy with a Coton de Tulear – often called the Royal Dog of Madagascar – for its buoyant, friendly personality and hypoallergenic qualities. A former co-worker had originally introduced me to the breed – and am I ever glad she did.

I wasn’t interested in a puppy, so taking in a retiring mother was the option I chose. I’d already connected with the breeder in 2007, but the timing wasn’t quite right. I didn’t want to leave a dog alone at home all day.

But by 2011, I was working from home and a dog fit into my lifestyle, although there would certainly be adjustments.

When I got a call from the breeder in March of last year that she was retiring one of her female dogs from breeding and competitive shows, it took me all of five seconds to say ‘Yes!’ I was told that her name was Milane and that she’d won many awards and had had two litters of puppies. Later, I found out that her son, Kintana, has gone on to become a big star in the Coton de Tulear show dog world!

After we arrived at the breeder’s home, we were met by a dozen or so little white balls of fur running around and barking excitedly. Milane was one of them but picking her out initially was like picking a certain star out of the sky. They all looked the same to me until the breeder asked me if I recognized Milane. I looked around and – from the photos I’d seen – remembered the champagne markings on her ears.

Then, I spotted her. ‘Is that her?’ ‘Yes!’ A good sign, I thought. She then picked her up in her arms as I petted her a few times and took a good look at this little creature that would be spending the next dozen years or so (I hope) with me. Then, I took her in my own arms and promptly got licked three times on the tip of my nose in what I’ve since learned is her signature public relations move.

It’s impossible to be mad at her after getting licked on the nose. She could burn down the house and all would be forgiven after her patented triple lick-lick-lick.

After the initial nervousness of wondering what the heck I’d gotten myself into, we soon developed a routine. The cats got used to her quite quickly. Cindy didn’t kill her and Casey pretty much fell in love with her. That boy loves the ladies and doesn’t seem to hold to any societal norms of dating within his species.

Today, Milane and Cindy can both cuddle up with me for attention. Casey will often shove his nose into Milane’s ample fur for a good sniff. Once, when Milane had a bad case of the hiccups for about five minutes, he came up to her and rubbed his face against hers in an effort to comfort her. That’s love, folks.

So, it’s been a year. What’s changed? Well, I’ve actually met and chatted with many neighbours who also have dogs. Most of the time, I don’t even remember the names of the neighbours – I just know the dogs. There’s Rocky, Daisy, Bo, Allison, Sierra and Milo. Both Rocky and Bo have darted across the street to say ‘Hi!’ to Milane – both times nearly giving me and their owners heart attacks.

I’ve even gotten to know neighbours who don’t have dogs simply by going out for walks with Milane. Having a dog is a great conversation starter.

And I’ve never been outside so much in all my life. I never realized how much I didn’t spend time outdoors until I got Milane. Now, whether I like it or not, I’m out there first thing in the morning with her so she can do her business – and then a few times during the day, too. There are walks, strolls through the park . . . and sometimes just quick visits to the yard. Rain. Wind. Blizzard. Sweltering heat. It doesn’t matter.

The killer, though, is the just-before-bed ‘business’ trip. If I happen to fall asleep on the sofa watching television and then wake up, there’s no heading straight to bed. I get the stare-down from Milane, who’s sending telepathic messages that I’d better take her out before I go to bed or I’ll be needing a wet-dry vac when I get up in the morning.

And, of course, she wins. I put on a coat, shoes and get her harness on to head out. Sometimes, I’m lucky enough that she does her thing right away and runs right back in. Sometimes, though, her hawk-like eyes and spookily good hearing spy something in the neighbourhood and she starts barking at something I can’t even see – at midnight.

It doesn’t take long for a dog to change your routine. A year ago, I didn’t think I would get used to it. Now, I can’t imagine not having her around. Here’s to many more years, Milane – many, many more!

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