You know it’s true. You’ve been dreaming about one nonstop for at least two years, and you make a fool out of yourself anytime you meet a dog. Forget talking to its owner, you just want to cuddle with your new friend. Now that you have officially labeled yourself a creeper, let’s think about a plan to get your own dog.
1. Do NOT purchase a dog from anyone who is not a certified breeder. This includes pet stores, hair/nail salons, or any random establishment that happens to be selling puppies.
2. Examine the legitimacy of the breeder. When you visit a breeder, ask to see their certifications and licenses. They ask you to provide references, and you need to ask them to provide references. If someone isn’t willing to show you proof of certification or references, don’t buy your puppy from that breeder. You also want to check for the living conditions of the parents. Make sure the breeder is transparent about any health issues in the parents of your puppy.
3. Consider adopting a dog from a rescue shelter. These dogs are often easier to bring home because they most likely have been vaccinated, spayed/neutered, crate trained, and socialized. The fee is a fraction of what a thorough bred costs, and it contributes to the rescue of other dogs.
4. Select a breed around which you feel comfortable. Regardless of the breed, bringing home a dog will require adjustments in your lifestyle. Research the needs of the breed that you want, and make sure you can provide those needs.
5. Use common sense. Big dogs can reside in apartments as long as they have plenty of time and exercise outside. Also, you don’t have to be the energizer bunny to own a hyper dog. In fact, if you’re a little sluggish it might help you to have a hyper dog as long as you are willing to care for him or her properly.
6. Get ready to spend a lot of time with your dog. Please don’t get a dog if you do not plan to spend a lot of time with him or her. Neglect is a form of abuse, and a companion pet is no companion if you don’t treat him or her as such.
7. Let your dog sleep inside where he or she will be safe from the elements. Dogs are den animals, which means that they prefer to dwell in places that provide a secure, warm shelter. Do not leave your dog outside tied to a tree. If you aren’t willing to see your new friend as a part of your family, then you aren’t ready to own a dog.
8. Save up and research the best quality care. Consider the costs of visits to the vet and groomer, food, crate, treats, bedding, toys, obedience classes, boarding, etc. Count all of that up and save up before you bring home your new friend. Research your options for quality dog food.
9. Take lots of pictures when your dog is a puppy. You’ll want to see how much your dog has grown sense puppyhood, and they’re great for when you miss those puppy days.
Now, stop being a creeper and go get you a dog.
The smell of the pines. That’s the first thing that I noticed as Cooper (my seven-month-old black lab/pitbull mix) and I stepped out of my car when we arrived in Alabama. When we stood on that ground, we both lifted our noses to the air and took in the fragrance from the pines. A smell that I had long forgotten poured out salient memories from my childhood. From playing in the leaves to making mud pies, from starting secret clubs to staining our jeans green, from rollerblading at high speeds to catching turtles in the creek, I knew this fragrance very well. There is this sense in the South that life is not all about work and that one’s identity does not rest solely in his or her job title. Sure, work is important, and most Southerners work hard, but only so they can play harder.
There is also this sweetness about Southerners. Not in a naive, passive sense, but in a kind, compassionate sense. This sweetness is often mixed with feistiness and a desire to keep everyone in line. (Now, you’ll notice that these are generalizations and that there are exceptions, but for the most part, this is what I have observed as a Southerner.) You know that whole adage about it taking a village to raise a child? Well, most kids who grow up in the South are raised by a village. If your child is caught acting up, you’re gonna find out about it pretty soon because the whole town probably knows about it by now.
One observation about the South that just tickles me is that it doesn’t matter how refined or polished a person is, he or she most likely goes hunting, fishing, mud-bugging, or tailgating. Ok, well, everyone in the South tailgates. Oh, and that’s another thing, I’m so glad to live again in a city where I don’t have to explain college football rivalries, especially the Alabama/Auburn rivalry. Yes, Texas has its rivalries, but the Alabama/Auburn one is the biggest. I don’t know how many times I explained it while living in Dallas, but it doesn’t matter if you went to a school or not. You have to be an Alabama or Auburn fan. If you’re from the state of Alabama and attend a college that isn’t the University of Alabama or Auburn University (even if it’s still in the state), you still have to pick one. If you’re not from the state of Alabama and attend a college here, you get a pass, but people will look at you funny and still try to convert you.
The last thing I’ll say for now is my love of sweet tea. Every restaurant sells sweet tea. It doesn’t matter what type of restaurant it is, and when you start working at a restaurant, one of the first things they teach you is how to make sweet tea. Okay, there is one that doesn’t sell sweet tea, and it just bogs my mind. I don’t get it. Anways, even if you go to a Tex-Mex, Asian, Italian, or Thai restaurant, you can ask for sweet tea.
I didn’t think that I would leave Dallas as soon as I did. God has a way of changing things up, and I know they are for the better. My family and I are going through a really difficult season. Four members of my family have been diagnosed with cancer within the past five years, and my grandmother – Meme – is plowing through her last days. Meme has taught me more about grace than anyone else, and I want to spend as much time with her as I can. Even though I could live and work just fine in Dallas, why would I do so and live alone so far away from my family? And why would I stay away from a place that has made me into the woman that I am? My journey in Dallas was priceless, and my education from Dallas Theological Seminary will go with me wherever I go, but I’m ready for a new adventure and am excited about my journey here in Alabama. So, for now I say “Goodbye” to the concrete jungle and “Hello, again” to those sweet, Southern pines.
May God be as clear with you about your journey as He has been with me.