Most people make well-thought out decisions about pets, and so did our family: on the first dog.

A few years later, there are four of them romping through the house.

I refuse to make them live outside. When we lived in Pennsylvania, it was too cold; in Texas, it’s too hot. Case closed. I should be able to have the final say since I clean up after them.

Some days, I literally feel my hair going gray; but other days, they make me laugh.

Gardening is always interesting. I dig a hole and plant a bush, the dogs “unplant” the bush and drop it somewhere else in the yard.

One can assume they had a different plan in mind. They dig holes, preferably in my flower bed — allowing me to lay claim to my very own grand canyon. I add mulch, they remove it. While I work, all four of them sit around me, watching — probably planning how to dismantle my work.

Inside the house is just as entertaining.

I cannot count the number of garments that have been “stolen” and played with. Much to my dismay, there is usually not much left when they are done. My daughter’s dolls and stuffed animals are victims as well.

During a friend’s visit, the woman, who left clothes out despite being forewarned, had to gather her bra from the backyard the next morning.

In the evenings, it’s a competition to see who gets to the couch first.

Once a Saint Bernard and a Labrador settle on the couch you are out of luck.

Then the run for the oversized chair begins, but the retriever and border collie run faster than me.

Recently, I put my foot down and banned them from the bedroom. Now when I sneak off to bed at night I have to keep my eyes averted because I know four pairs of accusing eyes follow my every step.

Feeding them is an art, too. Give them dry food and they display the evil eye. A mix of dog food and leftovers from their human counterparts is expected.

They help themselves whenever possible, snagging any food left out. Our dogs have perfected the art of counter surfing. I’ll start to worry if they figure out how to open the pantry door.

But despite the mess and the work, I would not change a thing. With the bad comes the good.

The dogs are there when I am sad and need a hug and they make me laugh when I at least expect it.

The Saint Bernard running from a jumping toad or a border collie trying to catch a cricket always make me laugh. Then there is the lot of them trying to catch a bird, finally realizing they cannot fly, which causes the saddest puppy look in history, but also brings a smile to my face.

They love me no matter what, unwavering and steadfast. That is a lesson everyone could learn from them.

Contact Alex Cole at or (254) 501-7470

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