Sandy Turner: Masks a matter of attitude

Sandy Turner

There’s a field near our house where geese like to hang out and snack on leftover crops. Duke was enjoying watching the flock so much, the car behind me had to honk to get me rolling past the stop sign.

Duke has consumed our lives. He’s a 90-pound, 1 1/2-year-old puppy who thinks he’s our kid — through no fault of his own because we treat him as though he is.

As we're working from home, he’s rarely alone and thinks he should be center stage anytime he’s awake — which, again, I realize is our fault. We are basically at his beck and call for his every need. He sheds like nobody’s business, and apparently we don’t care, as our welcome mat at the front door states, “Welcome, we hope you like dog hair.”

Duke is fantastic with the grandkids and has tolerated being hung on, sat on, dressed like a princess and shot at like a pirate. The only problem is when the grandkids run — then it’s game on. They’ve all been knocked over a time or two from his wagging tail or clumsy legs.

We waited for nearly five years before getting another dog after our Labrador and retriever lived out their best lives, and now we wish we had adopted a dog sooner. There’s something to be said about having a pet who loves you unconditionally, without any strings attached.

We’ve gone on so many walks that he shows up in the office every hour to give me those pleading eyes to go outside, although he does have a doggie door and can go out anytime he wants. With snow and ice on the ground, it takes me so long to get my Carhartts, boots, hat and gloves on that he sits and sighs as though he’s irritated it takes me so long to get ready.

I’ve started filling his bones with sweet potatoes, yogurt and peanut butter and freezing them for a tasty treat — it’s ridiculous, I know, but he loves it so much. I’ve also been looking for dog biscuit recipes, and every time the hubby goes to the hardware store, he comes home with another treat of some kind. If we weren’t walking every hour, the dog would be so fat he’d be waddling.

We talk constantly about how smart he is and are convinced he knows more than 50 words. We try to work around his naps and plan our outings accordingly. We have become those people who are obsessed with their furry “kid.”

There’s only one problem with this whole scenario. A dog's lifespan isn’t nearly long enough, and we know we’ll be lucky to have him as long as we had our other dogs — 14 years. It’s a bittersweet situation, as a pet allows companionship without words, love without risk and loyalty like no human can ever offer.

Today, we’re proud parents as Duke finally lifted his leg and peed on the fence. Attaboy!

If we don’t get out of the house soon, we’ll be buying clothes for the dog. We’re thinking maybe something along the lines of chaps and a cowboy hat — his name is Duke, after all.

Poor dog.

Sandy Turner is a mom, grandma, former caretaker and retired journalist living in Missouri who writes a weekly column about home, family relationships and keeping positive during challenging times.

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