Friday, September 3, 2010

A girl and her dog

When I was a kid, I would get annoyed at what felt to me like a proliferation of stories on print and screen about boys and their dogs, but none about girls. I still do. I've always wondered where there are distaff equivalents of TV shows like Lassie and Rin Tin Tin, not to mention books like Jim Kjeergaard's Red series, Eric Knight's Lassie Come-Home, or even Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Shiloh series.
Because, make no mistake about it, the bond between girls and their dogs are as powerful as those between those dogs and their brothers. I was crazy about the dogs I grew up with. As an adult, that adoration hasn't diminished. When I went off to college, I worried most not about homesickness, whether I'd get good grades or whether I'd make friends (especially the male kind). I worried most about whether our Dachshund, Casey, would remember me when I came home for Thanksgiving. And on many levels, I missed him more than I missed the human members of my family.
Apparently, I've passed that dog craziness to my daughter. Julie and Allie have always been great friends, but the intensity of that bond has grown exponentially since Julie started college three years ago. Julie's heading back to school for her senior year on Sunday--and she's said more than once how she'll miss Allie most of all.
I don't take offense at that. Unlike me, Allie can't respond to Julie's text messages or emails, and she certainly won't be coming with me when I got to visit Julie in Chicago next month. As close as Julie and I are, the mother-daughter relationship still carries a weight of history that is blessedly absent between a girl and her dog. With Allie, everything can be simple. I get that. It was the same for me--and, in fact, still is.
(Pictured above: Julie and Allie)


KathyF said...

The same with me. When I left for college, I came home every weekend my first year--to see my poodle, Fifi, not to see my parents, who split as soon as I left home.

My daughters were the same way as yours. The hardest thing I ever did was calling them to tell them Bailey had died. Harder than telling them my mom had died.

Good luck to your daughter this year. And hugs to Allie.

Susan said...

I can relate, Kathy. Fortunately for Julie--not to mention her daid and me--we are a close, loving family. Still family life is never simple, and is always messy. But living with a dog can mitigate some of that.

Jan said...

I got my first dog when I was three years old. I missed her so much whenever I went to summer camp or any place where I couldn't take her. She died at age 15 the spring before I went to college.

As soon as I graduated I got a home that would allow me to continue to share my life with dogs.

I don't understand why there are so few stories of girls and dogs.

Susan said...

That makes two of us, Jan. That said, there are memoirs written by women about their lives with their dogs: Pack of Two by Caroline Knapp, An Unknown Women by Alice Koller and, more recently, Let's Take the Long Way Home by Knapp's friend, Gail Caldwell. But all these books are about exploring one's interior; while they may provide plenty of points of identity for adult women, they really don't offer anything to young girls.

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