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I've Got Tons of Animals, But No Dog

August 8, 2020


The author’s best friend, Shadow, was a Black Labrador, like this one. Dogs are man’s best friend so why doesn’t she have one now?

How can I have 65 head of cattle, four horses, a donkey, pigs, sheep, cats, and chickens -- but no dog? It's a fair question.

There is nothing more rewarding than a wagging tail and a wet nose to welcome you home. But they require so much care! Dogs are more like children than they are like livestock. Dog owners share their homes; take them along in the car; hurry home at 5 p.m. to let them out to do their business; walk with them; confide in them; and sometimes eat better than humans. Some people even buy meat from our farm store for their dogs. One customer said, "My dogs eat better than me!"

As much as my oxen might want to ride in the car, there is no room, and because they live outside, they don't depend on me at bathroom time. I walk with them and sometimes confide in them, but I don't let them into my house. They are not family.

My first dog, Princess, was a collie puppy my father brought home at Christmas when I was 7. She was my best friend. She followed me through the forest behind our house in Bedford, Mass. She watched while I dipped my "fishing line" (a string attached to a stick) into a puddle, pretending to fish, and while I climbed onto an elephant-shaped boulder and rode it through the woods. She never judged and was always there for me-until she wasn't. 

I was so angry when Princess died! How could my best friend be taken from me? I never wanted another pooch.

But after college, when I settled in New Hampshire, a black Lab, I named Shadow, showed up at my door. She stayed off the furniture (most of the time), ran alongside on horse trail-rides, and was glad to see me, always. She was a sweet companion perfect, except for her fear of thunder. Once, when she ran off during an electrical storm, I thought she was gone forever. But on the morning of the fourth day, she came limping back, thin and thirsty. She lived a few more years, but at age 12, she was in such agony the merciful thing had to be done.

The pain of losing Shadow was harder for me than losing a human friend; it was heart-wrenching. That's the real reason I don't have a dog.

If you've got a dog, I congratulate you on having a life partner worthy of your love and care. But for now, I'll work hard on giving my livestock the best lives possible.

Carole Soule

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