|Niko, the Wonder Dog|
Doesn't this face discourage you from robbing my house or messing with my daughters? Doesn't he make you tremble in your boots and think twice about whatever diabolical plan you were hatching against my family? Yeah, I thought so!
This little guy is Niko (named for a local soft drink), and we got him about 3 years ago to be the family guard dog. He was immediately ruined, being carried around like a baby and dressed up in cutesy clothes, sleeping on a little cushion and sneaking treats. I feared he'd never step into his role because we'd made him too soft.
|One would think that a grown dog would be humiliated by |
being carried around like a baby, but not this one!
He got a bit of age on him, though, and a funny thing happened. He'd been treated like a member of the family and found his place in our clan, and he fell as much in love with us as we had with him.
Out of this grew a fierce protective spirit, and I dare say that now, no one would dream of passing this fella to mess with any of us. He's quite docile with children and loves to lie on his back so young kids can
We've tried several different pets here in Paraguay, including a beautiful parrot that died from the cold, a cute turtle that hobbled away and never came back, and various stray cats that I didn't approve of but didn't chase away because they were eating snakes and rats. In the states we'd had a dog and a couple of chickens once, but somehow these animals here become part of the family more quickly and we find ourselves really attached to them. And the fact that this big baby has a bit of an intimidation factor is just an added bonus. :)
I'm the practical one in our crowd, so sometimes I focus on Niko as more of a hassle--who will feed him when we're traveling? What will we do with him on furlough? Our older daughter is allergic to him and can't somebody bathe him again so he's less likely to set off a reaction? What about the costs of his vaccinations and all that food? And on and on. But I can't deny his benefit to us, or how good it makes me feel to open the gate and his tail is wagging as he trots up to meet me with nuzzles. (He knows better than to wrestle with me like he does the kids.)
I've never really been an animal person--all that hair and barking and poop. But in the months after the accident when I was pretty much confined to the bed or the wheelchair, he'd come up and sniff the area my bone was broken, lay his head just beside it, and rest there a while. If everyone left the house, he stayed right by my feet and followed me closely in those months of learning to walk again. I'm not sure that he didn't cause more damage than good, as much as I had to be careful not to stumble over him, but somehow it was the thought that counted. So I've learned to love him, too.
My husband says that having the dog takes a measure of stress off him as the man in charge of keeping us gals as safe as possible. For our daughters, Niko's the constant that's been with us through 3 moves in the last 4 years--an added comfort when so many other things change.