Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Parenting/Running/Pets

From doghouse to the dining room

Inside or Outside pets?

I grew up in a home where animals were kept outside. You know the “place for everything and everything in its place” mentality. It didn’t mean we loved our pets any less. Mom grew up milking her favorite cow, Manzanita (little apple) every morning and delivered the milk in her wagon to save up for a Kodak Brownie Camera. Dad didn’t have pets growing up, as he worked so much in my grandpa’s grocery store he hardly had time to go to school, much less take care of a pet. We grew up with dogs that stayed outside and a sweet fluffy cat I played with, in the backyard.

The only dog I knew that was allowed to roam on the linoleum floors in the kitchen was my grandmother’s Chihuahua, Romeo. Truthfully whether he was inside or out, depended on whether the slap screen to her backdoor was ajar or not. I can still hear her holler in her strong Spanish accent “RRRRRomeo come!!”

When I was in grade school my dear dog Dusty was a loyal companion, and definitely an “outdoor” dog. Dad and I made her a doghouse with a pitched roof and my oldest sister wrote “Dusty” above the door in fancy letters. She slept in the garage when it was cold, and hollowed out a den for her puppies under our woodpile when she delivered her eight puppies. She ate ALL leftovers except iceberg lettuce and fetched sticks along the ditch behind our home.

Come on in Fido!

So when exactly did we let the dogs IN? The animal and human bond has been studied by the University of Oxford and shows the actual domestication of animals is still a mystery. In fact, 12,000 years ago dogs and cats were buried with humans, so perhaps the idea of “man’s best friend” has been around longer than we think.

After college, various roommates had inside dogs and I loved the joyful greetings after work and the snuggles at night. When Dusty died at 17 years old – the outdoors were good to her, I adopted a sweet lab/chow mix, named her Misty and kept her inside unless she was playing, pooping or we were running.

Set the table, Lola!

I began thinking about how domestic is too domestic when I saw my dog, Lola, lying on the dining room table. As a Border Collie or Australian Shepard (jury is still out), she is constantly looking for sheep, kids, other dogs, and food. So in her defense, being a little higher up gives her the proverbial “bird’s eye” view of what’s on deck.

Not surprisingly, when I mention her love of high, flat surfaces to people, most are mortified that she’s allowed to bunk on the dining room table (we do clean it before serving dinner, really). Others think it’s “SO cute”, yet a little concerning. I suppose it’s our new normal. One dog takes the floor and watches for intruders or a runaway Cheerio while the other pulls up a chair and uses the table as a tree stand.

I adore our dogs and couldn’t imagine not having a tail-wagging recklessly in our home. Inside or outside, they are family. Then again, I’m the one scrubbing a dining room table every day — but it’s worth it.

So my question to you is: Is your dog in charge? When you answer, could you keep it down? Lola just fell asleep.






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