You can call me a dog lover. Go ahead, I won't argue.
My fiancee and I have three and we treat each one like it is part of the family. But something happened last week that made me wonder if we treat our dogs too well.
You be the judge.
I entered the back door of my home singing a tune that was on the car radio. First of all, I wouldn't have been singing if the house hadn't been empty because I don't want anyone to hear my horrible voice. The only witnesses were my dogs.
When I finished I turned to Chewy, our 12-pound mini poodle, and asked, "I don't have much of a voice do I?"
Since he couldn't respond I answered for him in a voice I'd describe as high and hoarse: "No Dad, you stink."
"Really?" I replied in a human voice. "Let's see if your sister Sophie has the same opinion."
"Chewy is right Dad, you're pretty bad."
It was around then that I realized I was having a one-sided, fake and incredibly stupid conversation with my dogs.
Feeling a bit self-conscious I walked around the house making make sure no one was at home. I imagined a robber hiding in the attic listening to the whole thing. Later he'd tell his robber friends about the loony in Minot who asks his dogs to critique his singing. Embarrassing.
At that point I began wondering if I treat my dogs too well. My fiancee and I do nice things for our dogs, but we don't go above and beyond the norm. Or do we?
Upon first moving to Minot from Indiana, we bought tiny socks to cover Chewy's feet when he'd walk in the snow. We'd put them on and send him out only to find a sock or two missing when he'd come inside. When the snow thawed we found about six pairs of socks scattered all over the yard.
Because none of our dogs shed, we get their hair cut every three months. The cost is about $30 a dog, which is more than the $20 a month I pay to get my hair cut.
We have a queen-size mattress that is comfortable enough for two. Add three dogs as we do and you need to be a contortionist to get a good night's sleep (if you can call it that).
When we go out of town, we hire a dog-sitting service that comes to the house four times a day for an hour each time. We even interviewed the sitters beforehand to make sure we could trust them. I think that's more research than my parents did in choosing a babysitter for me.
My fiancee told me her coworkers asked her a difficult question. If our house was on fire and she could save Craig or Chewy, whom would she save? Her answer was Chewy because I could fend for myself. I'm not sure what I think about that.
If you feel bad for me don't. I knew what I was getting into when I proposed to her, having met her mother.
My future mother-in-law has two dogs. Both are getting older and one has cataracts, the occasional seizure and a single tooth. She makes the sickly one wear a denim diaper at all times and feeds both special food, usually consisting of ground hamburger, chicken or various deli-sliced meat.
When my fiancee goes out to eat with her family, her mother often says, "don't eat all of it, save some leftovers for Chloe and Buddy."
When my fiancee was in high school she'd get into an occasional argument with her mother. During one of those arguments her mother picked up Chloe and said, "this is the perfect daughter. She never talks back and doesn't disobey me." My fiancee replied, "Mom, she's a dog."
As you can see, the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. But I contend that there is nothing wrong with treating dogs like they are our overly hairy children. Our dogs deserve at least some special treatment considering all they put up with from us.
After all, if they can listen to us sing, we can scratch their tummies every once in a while.
(Craig Haupert is a sports writer for The Minot Daily News. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)