When Man Is A Dog’s Best Friend

Dr. John Kaya
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Wednesday - May 12, 2010
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Though opinions may vary, the definition of a best friend is someone who is there for you during the toughest of times. This person is supportive and encouraging but painfully truthful. As a child, it’s the kid that let you borrow her tricked-out bicycle or your buddy who gave you his favorite baseball card. As a young adult, it’s your “wingman” who always made you look good in front of the ladies. Of course once married, it’s your spouse, the love of your life, who takes on the role of a best friend.

What about animals? The term man’s best friend has historically referred to dogs, but is the feeling mutual? Is the dog’s best friend indeed man (or woman)? The following story is true as I witnessed the account firsthand. It taught me the meaning of “best friend” when it comes to animals.

It was a blustery autumn day and I had just arrived at my in-laws’ house after a hard day at work. My wife was enjoying her People


magazine and my mother-in-law busily prepared our dinner. The aromas from the kitchen were heavenly and since I had to skip lunch, my body had a mind of its own. “Mr. Stomach” growled with such vehemence that it startled my poor cat Rocky, who was sitting on my lap at the time. “Mr. Salivary Gland” also joined the fray as Rocky darted off, eyes wide from the ferocious rumbling, drool peeked from the corner of my mouth. It was very embarrassing, to say the least.

Anxiously awaiting the delicious fare, I scanned the living room for some type of distraction to take my mind off of food. It was then that I noticed that my father-in-law was nowhere to be seen. Mom said he was out walking Lani, the family’s 19-year-old Pomeranian Silky Terrier mix. Fearing any further awkward bodily expressions, I headed out to see if I could catch up with Dad.

Once outside, I spotted my father-in-law walking Lani some 50 feet ahead of me on the sidewalk. Jogging to reach their location, I started to notice a golf club in his hand. Was he practicing his golf swing while walking the dog? I was quite impressed.

I pulled along side the duo and after a few minutes decided to ask Dad about the golf club.

“Hey, Dad, what’s with the golf club? Practicing your swing?” I chided.

“Actually,” he responded, “I use it to guide Lani as she walks. Since she is blind, she tends to walk into brush, poles and fire hydrants. She knows to turn away if I gently tap her.”

“Dad, I’ve heard of Seeing Eye Dogs, but you’re sort-of like a Seeing Eye Human,” I joked.

Laughing at my comment, he grinned and said, “I never thought of it that way, but I guess I am.”

Later that evening I began to take notice of all the things that my in-laws would do to keep Lani comfortable and happy. You see, besides being blind, Lani was deaf, arthritic and partially incontinent. The home nursing care for her was truly a labor of love. Lani provided years of joy and companionship for my wife and my in-laws, and in the end it was their turn to care for her.

Lani lived for two more years, till the ripe old age of 21. Did she have a best friend? Sure she did. Her best friends were the family that loved and cared for her on the wild side.

Pet Tip: Aging pets often need some level of nursing care. Consult your veterinarian for advice on helping your furry, feathered or scaled senior citizen.

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