By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
Carole Townsend

(Not So) Common Sense
Be the person your dog thinks you are
By Carole Townsend

I’m a dog person, there’s no secret there. Our dogs have seen our family through a lot of things: career changes, family tragedies, births and celebrations, you name it.

They stayed at home when all of our children moved away. They have sat loyally by our side when others haven’t done the same. They have seen us through everything that life has to dish out, and they’ve done so with the love that only a dog can give.

I’ve heard it said that dogs are God’s apology for our relatives. I’ve also heard it said that a dog’s only fault is that his life is so short. I’d be inclined to agree with both statements, though I have to say that most of our relatives are OK. The point is that a dog, in my opinion, is a wonderful, wondrous creature that I do believe was made for our companionship. And what companions they are.

I read an article in the newspaper last week, about a couple who left a puppy locked in a car while they did a little shopping in the mall.  Fortunately, some passersby heard the puppy crying and took notice. When they looked inside the car, the small dog was panting and crying, obviously in distress. The people who saw and heard the puppy called 9-1-1, and when the police officer showed up, he broke the passenger side window and pulled the puppy out. While he waited for the couple to return to the car, he kept the puppy in his air-conditioned vehicle.

Long story short, the couple were arrested and charged with cruelty to animals and possession of marijuana. In that one instance, all was right with the world, at least for that little dog. The puppy didn’t die, though he was taken to an emergency veterinarian for care. Little Coco will reside at the Gwinnett County animal shelter pending the outcome of the case. I imagine that people will be lining up to adopt the little guy. The only way that story could have been any better would have been for the couple to spend a little time out in the heat, in a locked car. And they should be made to pay for the care and adoption of Coco.

The sad thing is, shelters are full of Cocos, every dog and cat in there having his own sad story, ultimately written by a human being. Whether the story is about abuse or neglect, or simply a person’s refusal to spay or neuter, we are ultimately responsible for the sad stories caged row after row in animal shelters. 

Well, I’ll say just one more thing about the poor treatment of animals, and then I’ll get off my soapbox. The way we treat animals is a pretty accurate barometer of the character of our society. Who we elect, what we build, and how much money we have in the general fund has less to do with our character than the way we treat the least among us. In other words, if you want to gauge the character of a people, look at they way they treat children. The elderly. And animals.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get back to a happier topic, and that’s a dog’s nature. Only a dog can see us at out worst, can know how little we have in our bank accounts, or see us sans clothing, and still love us like no other creature on the face of the earth will. And don’t we need that? I know I do. I need to snuggle up to an 80-lb. slobbery bundle of fur every now and then, letting down all my defenses and not having to pretend about anything. And I need to let a tiny 5-lb Chihuahua curl up into a ball in my lap and sleep like she doesn’t have a care in the world – because she doesn’t.  I need to look at a sweet, kind face every now and then, and look back at that face with the same kindness and love. These things keep me sane. They keep me grounded, and kind, and compassionate. 

Yes, I’d have to say that the only fault a dog has is that its life is far too short. Oh I’m aware that my kids are starting to think of me as the crazy dog lady. I’m OK with that. I know that they have the same love and compassion for animals that I do, and I feel pretty sure that at some point in their lives, they too will have a house full of barking, slobbering, loving animals, probably dogs. I’m very OK with that.

We’ve raised four children in this house that we still call home. We have made so many memories here that it will be difficult to leave when the time comes. And we have as many “memories” left by our dogs as we do by our children. Around here, dogs are most definitely family.

And for the cat people out there, cats deserve every bit as much kindness and compassion as do dogs. I would take this opportunity to compare dog people vs.cat people, dogs and cats, but I think I’ll save that for another day. 

Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was published April 2016. It is the true tale of a crime that took place in Gwinnett County nearly 40 years ago. Her other three books are MAGNOLIAS, SWEET TEA & EXHAUST; RED LIPSTICK & CLEAN UNDERWEAR; and SOUTHERN FRIED WHITE TRASH. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national true crime radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and at www.caroletownsend.com. When she’s not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, children, the family and living in her beloved South.