So. My husband's family has a problem with dogs. The family home was a farm, which meant there were always ten batrillion canines running around. And for as long as I have known these lovely people, every. single. one. of the dogs. has had brain-damage.
Oh, not technically. Like, not on paper. No veterinarian has ever handed my in-laws a piece of paper that said, "This dog is clinically brainless." But I tell you, that piece of paper has been there in spirit.
For example: the hub's fam had a dog that used to run headlong into walls and hit with such force that it would change directions. On purpose. This is, in fact, how the dog turned corners. The same dog would get so excited when it barked that it would begin choking: "Bark! Bark! Bar--cough, choke--ark! Bark! Bark!--gag, cough, choke--" etc.
Then there was the little beastie that, every time it stood up from lying next to you, left body parts behind. Not. Kidding. Ew.
There was the Pomeranian who thought my shoe laces were possessed and attacked them venomously every time I was near. The Spaniel that decided my husband was the alpha-male and peed on his shoes every time we came to visit. And the ginormoid Dalmatian that knocked furniture, cars, and often my mother-in-law over with its tail.
The best part of it all is this: my mo-in-law now owns a Shelty. It's a little thing that used to be a show dog and has demonstrated tremendous air-headedness on many occasions (enough that my oldest son once said to me, "What do you expect, mom? She's a model.") (Bwa! Points for wittiness!) Little doggie generally gets in the way, barks her guts out, runs and hides from strangers, and does nothing to protect her owner.
This drives MIL crazy. She complains. Wishes her dog were better. And generally has given me the feeling that she does not like this animal.
So here is the best part (yeah, all that stuff before wasn't it. This is it): The other night during a storm my mother-in-law's little doglette got out of the yard. It was 45 minutes before my MIL noticed her missing. I expected some eye-rolling. Maybe some snarky commenting. But apparently I know nothing about dogs and dog-owners. Because for all of her kvetching about the little pet, my mother-in-law turned out to be attached to the thing. She was very distressed. Rallied the troops. Family spent over an hour driving around in the dark looking for the dear creature. There were dangerous roads and the dog could have been anywhere, or even no longer anywhere at all.
Finally, after much searching, Tia was found trembling in a stranger's driveway. My mother-in-law got the little fur ball to come with her and soon had her snug and safe at home. Then she called and shakily told me the story and how grateful she was that she had found her little friend.
And frankly, I was too. Turns out little dog-face means a lot to that good woman. It brings to mind the saying, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." And more serious, the idea that we don't really appreciate what we have until it's gone.
So, maybe here's what I'm taking from this: When something frustrates or annoys us, maybe it's a sign that we should look a little closer at it. See if we can find some good. If we succeed, how much better life will be. If we don't--if we can't find anything redeeming at all in whatever it is--at least we'll know. And we can move on to something better.
I like that.
But I'm not getting a dog.