Kyle Troutman: A panegyric on puppers

Saturday, August 29, 2020

In case you missed it, break out your leash, open the treat bag and deliver some past due belly rubs in celebration of National Dog Day.

The observance on Wednesday provided an opportunity to talk about something other than the latest stress-inducers (looking at your back-to-school week and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic), but rather, a stress-reliever.

I grew up with dogs almost all my life, my first being a chocolate labrador, Sadie, who my siblings and I received on my eighth Christmas, excitedly popping her puppy self out of a hole-ridden Sesame Street box. Dogs in my homes throughout my childhood included a miniature schnauzer, Roscoe; a blue American pitbull terrier, Blue; a sheltie, Chopper; another black lab, Lucy; a maltese-yorkie, Poppy; a leagle (labrador/beagle mix), Booger; a teacup chihuahua, Mojo; a traditional chihuahua, Chi-Chi; an albino German shepherd, Jake; and two traditional shepherds, Thunder and Dakota.

Now, with my own house and growing family, I have two pupperoos. I got my boy Baxter, a cur mix named after the dog in “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” three years and 27 days ago after he was found in a box on the side of the road. Our other dog, Izzy, a cattle dog, belonged to my fiancé and lived at another home for a while before finding her way back to us and evening the score in the household between humans and pets.

Two dogs in the home are better than one. They frequently wear one another out by playing in the backyard, they team up on our 5-year-old when the treat bag is moved and they get 1,000 percent jealous of one another if one is receiving attention but the other is not. Also, seeing Baxter scare himself with his own flatulence will send your drink shooting out your nose every time.

The entertainment value and companionship — I swear both dogs can sense emotion and sickness — is worth every penny in dog food, medications, vet visits, etc.

Truth be told, sometimes the chewed up non-dog toys and the errant peeing make me question my sanity, but alas, dogs will be dogs.

For anyone looking to expand their family and gain a sweet but slobbery companion, there are two main places locally to look — the Monett Animal Shelter and Haven of the Ozarks Animal Sanctuary in rural Exeter.

Karen Griggs, Monett animal control officer, said in 2019, she picked up 312 dogs, returned 103 to their owners and adopted out 59. This year so far, she has picked up 148, returned 76 and adopted out 32.

“I love dogs,” she said. “It makes no difference what kind they are. I have six of my own.”

At the Haven, there have been 278 dogs taken in this calendar year, there are 104 still available and 302 have been adopted out, even with the facility closing to the public for a couple months due to the pandemic. Full disclosure, I am on the Haven’s board, have taken in a stray I fostered and adopted our cat from there.

With the stresses of 2020, and the mental health issues that come with them, adopting one (or more) wagging tails could be a benefit. It would certainly be a howling good time for those impounded dogs to find their forever homes.

In fact, the American Kennel Club purports at least eight science-backed facts owning a dog is good for you. Among other benefits, studies show dogs relieve stress, can help prevent heart complications (via stress relief), increase happiness, make people more social, keep people in shape, keep people healthy by training to detect specific diseases or food dangers, make people more caring and make people more attractive. Ultimately, our dogs take care of us as much as we take care of them.

I would suggest getting a dog that already has a name, otherwise you may end up in my boat. The other night, I was reading our new kindergartener a book about “gross things.” It was a page she specifically requested — don’t ask me why — about why dogs might eat poop or scoot across the floor.

It happened to be the first time she came across a synonym for the word “poop.” After a giggle, she stopped my reading and declared, “When we get another dog, I have the perfect name — Dookie!”

Maybe we can settle for Duke.

Kyle Troutman has served as the editor of the Cassville Democrat since 2014. In 2017, he was named William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist for daily newspapers. He may be reached at 417-847-2610 or editor@cassville-democrat.com.