large white dog standing on hind legs and sniffing nose of a manEarly in our relationship my husband, an avid tennis player, hoped that I too might learn to enjoy the game. I knew that the chances of that were slim to none, but needed to at least give it a try. My attitude is that if someone really wants to play with me they’d hit the balls to me, rather than try to make me miss them. I quickly realized during the one time I played a game of tennis with my husband that the sooner I hit all the balls over the fence and out of the court the sooner I could leave and get on with things, like a walk with the dogs. My husband continues to play tennis, just not with me.

We give a lot of lip service to having a good relationship with our dogs but I wonder if our dogs could talk, what they would have to say about what is really going on between us. Few pet owners would say they have a bad relationship with their dog, but if questioned about it, it’s often challenging to find something ‘good’ about it, from the dog’s imagined point of view anyway. Sure the food may be welcome and having a safe, comfortable place to sleep is nice, but that should be a given in any relationship a human has with a domesticated animal.

I live with a border collie and sheep are out of the question, and I do feel sorry about this for his sake, so I try to find other activities which make his eyes sparkle. As with most dogs what it takes isn’t much. A few minutes tossing frisbees, some stones splashing into the river, an off-leash run and anything I can think to ask him to do to earn a few bits of cheese may not make up for the lack of sheep, but I have tried to look at our relationship from his side of things.

Imagine that you LOVE to dance and you partner up with someone who not only doesn’t enjoy dancing but is adamant about preventing you from ever dancing again. How’s that for a good relationship? Now imagine your partner was to say that if you really loved them you’d be happy not to dance, that your life should be complete without the music, without the movement. How long before the bloom is off of that rose?