Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How Do I Love Cocker Spaniels...

Let me count the ways...

1. They are beautiful to look at. I never thought I would care about that part of owning a dog, but it is gratifying to see a very elegant dog lying on the couch or running through the yard or trying to sneak onto the table to eat leftovers.

2. They are soft. That is actually the reason I wanted a dog in the first place. I was in the final throes of my dissertation when we got Tula. All my life seemed like hard angles and difficult things and guilt. Cocker spaniels are soft of fur and even of make; when you pick them up, they just fold up into a mass of curly fur like they don't have bones.

3. Their hair is fun to comb. I originally said "No dog who requires grooming!" But it turns out that, although I hated Barbies and other dolls whose hair needed combing, I love combing my dog's ears. It is satisfying to see her looking nice afterward, and it's even a fun challenge to convince her to let me keep doing it. I love how silky her ears get.

4. Every time you go to the groomer, you get a new dog. Seriously. We take her in a shaggy dog with whiskers, and she comes out a show dog. Or a skinny, spotted little shorn dog. Either way, it's like having a new dog every few months so we are never bored!

5. People stop me in the street to tell me my dog is beautiful. Again, this is something that shouldn't matter, and it doesn't -- but it is an extra perk. I'd planned on having a non-descript dog, but we got Tula. Now, I get to walk down the street saying, "Thank you! Yes, we love her." over and over.

6. Hers a sweet baby dogga! And that's an example of the new language we have developed. We only talk to cocker spaniels like that, so it must be the cocker spaniel language. The bad thing is that we sometimes talk in cocker spaniel for no reason, when there is no cocker spaniel with us. But it's funny.

7. They are fun, but hard, to take care of. I wanted a nondescript, healthy, boring dog who required little of me, but I got a cocker spaniel. They are not for everyone. They have to go to the vet for ear medicine quite often (about every 4-6 months in our case) and to the groomer about every other month. I thought I would HATE a dog like that, but it turns out that I like maintaining her many needs.

8. They aren't crazily hyperactive. At least ours is not. She sleeps about 16 hours a day. She'll play if we want to play. Sometimes she'll bring us toys because she wants to play. But for the most part, she just wants to lay around. Much like us.

9. They are smart. At least ours is. It was so easy to teach her to shake hands, sit, stay, roll over. I ought to teach her more things, but I don't know how. I'm not good with dog pedagogy.

10. They are just the right size. They aren't so small that they don't seem like real dogs, but they aren't so big that you have to have a huge house and yard for them. They are substantial, but not cumbersome.

11. They don't shed much. I thought for sure they would because they have so much hair, but ours doesn't. Of course, we keep her groomed pretty well. When she does shed, twice a year, she sheds in clumps instead of millions of hairs all over the place, and that's easy to clean up.

12. They are easy to please. At least Tula is, and I hear most are like this. Give her food, she's happy. Especially if it's your food.

13. They could be useful dogs. They were originally bred as bird dogs, and most can still do that work with the right training. I won't be hunting birds with mine, but it's nice to know I could have if I'd wanted to.

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