My spouse calls me a dog pusher because he says I\’m always pushing dogs on people. I think of it more as inter-species matchmaking, and it\’s true that I delight in it. For example, I \”pushed\” Bisou\’s brother Theo onto my daughter and her partner, with terrific results. I am presently \”pushing\” one of Wolfie\’s relatives onto dear friends, who would be perfect for the dog, and to whom the dog would, I feel sure, bring years of happiness. How do I know this? I\’ve watched my friends around my own dogs and…I just have a feeling.
My most daring instance of dog pushing happened many years ago, when I air-mailed a dog to my newly-widowed mother. My mother had never owned a dog, and she firmly believed that dogs, being basically \”dirty,\” belonged outside the house. The very thought of house training a puppy, and cleaning up the occasional mess, made her feel faint.
At that time, my husband and I had a young Lhasa Apso, named Alexandra, whom I had successfully steered through the chewing and house-breaking stages. Then we got an Irish setter puppy, and Alexandra contracted a serious case of sibling rivalry. If I so much looked at the new puppy, Alexandra would jump up onto my lap and bark at ear-splitting decibels to get the puppy to go away.
I read all the dog books I could get my hands on (there weren\’t many in the 1970s) and tried the stuff they recommended, but nothing worked. Alexandra was losing weight; the puppy was becoming withdrawn; and we were going crazy with the tension and the barking. What to do with this intransigent but charming, perfectly house-trained purebred dog? Then it came to me that, on my mother\’s previous visit, I had come upon her petting Alexandra as they sat side by side on the sofa–the first time in my entire life that I had witnessed my mother touching a dog.
I\’m not sure that I would now have the nerve to do what I did then, which was to buy Alexandra an airline crate and a one-way ticket to Alabama, where my mother lived. I sent my mother a telegram instructing her to be at the air cargo terminal at a certain date and time, but I gave no information as to what was coming to her.
Long story short: my mother was utterly surprised and completely charmed by Alexandra. She could not believe that a dog, a mere animal, could be so civilized and well-behaved. And so clean!
Alexandra lived a long life as a petted only dog, and she gave my mother a lot of joy. As for me, I was pretty proud of my gambit. Sure, it could have been a disaster, but I had had a feeling that it would be a good thing for Alexandra and my mother to be together. And it was.
And that is how I became a dog pusher.