“If You Want Comfort Get a Dog”


My teachers the Engelharts like to say, “If you want comfort get a dog.”  By this they suggest that human relationships are sticky and can be hard to manage, to negotiate.  Unlike humans, dogs are easy to handle and provide a source of comfort.  As a dog owner who’s done a lot of interpersonal work on herself, I totally understand this sentiment.

I adopted Billy about a year and a half ago while working at Google.  I will always be grateful for their dog-friendly culture which provided me the benefit of being able to bring him work.  Without it, I never could have justified owning a dog in San Francisco given my long commute, full-time schedule and small condo which would leave little time and space to adequately take care of a pet.

Of course, within a few months of adopting my adorable Terrier/Chihuahua mix, I turned into a self-professed crazy dog lady.  Here are some examples of what happened:

  • I took Billy everywhere — work, Healdsburg wine-tasting events, movies, dinner parties, you name it. If Billy was not welcome, chances are I wouldn’t go.  Billy was not allowed in my friend’s condo when she invited me to brunch since she was concerned about her pricey, new hardwood floors.  Understandable but I never went to her home again.
  • I thought often and deeply about things like matching his collar to his new dog tag.  Red and purple did not sufficiently match.
  • I would — and still do — swear he talks to me.  And I love it when he sings — especially in the mornings when I rub his tummy and he coos and moans in accompaniment to “You Are My Sunshine.”
  • I figured out how to attach a pet carrier to my Italian road bike even though it wasn’t designed to fit. Other physical activities, like roller skating and skate boarding, became more appealing since I could do them with Billy.
  • I started to judge new people I met based on how they greeted Billy. If they complimented Billy, I immediately thought they were a good person.
  • A new pastime is reading blogs about people who travel the world with their pets.
  • I plan to celebrate his next birthday rather than my own. Hats and streamers will be provided.  Cake will be served.

Get the picture?  Well, as important as Billy was to me in SF, he is even more important to me now that I live in Panama.  In and of itself, moving to a new country is a big undertaking.  Add to that a change of living situation — from living on my own to living with my parents — plus a change of career, different language, and new climate and things get hairy very quickly.  To be sure, a lot of things are different, which is good, but I have to admit, transitioning to a new culture and lifestyle is a challenge.

What has not changed throughout this entire period, however, is where Billy sleeps.  Just like in San Francisco, he burrows nightly under the my covers to reach the foot of my bed.  Often I forget he’s there and inadvertently whack him with a leg in a toss or a turn.   Likewise, The Maven doesn’t always know he’s contently snuggled under the sheets and walks slowly over him; Billy immediately responds with a serious — but cute — groan.  You think we’d get used to Billy always being there since he always has been.

Without a doubt, Billy is my comfort.  My experience instantly improves when I squeeze his chicken breast sized torso.  My mood lightens when I kiss his liver-colored nose.  I smile watching him skip down the street.  In a strong, tropical breeze, he is  my trusty 8-pound anchor.  As my guardian in being and furry little muse of unconditional love, Billy is the best.


4 responses »

  1. Laura, I love dogs and your description of Billy is great! He is a very special little guy!

    I have a question. Is it difficult to bring a dog from California to Panama? Do they require that he be quarantined at the PTY airport, even if you have all his papers showing that his shots are all up to date?

    And how about getting him there safely. Did you fly with Billy and have to put him in a dog carrier with the luggage?

    I always fly Copa on their nonstop LAX – PTY. My pooch Django is not as small as Billy and would definitely have to fly in the cargo or luggage hold in a dog carrier. Do you know if it would be heated and pressurized and safe? If I move to Panama as an expat, I would love to bring Django!

  2. Hi Richard. Thanks for the message! It wasn’t too difficult to bring Billy from California but I did have to go through a number of steps. My vet had to examine him, give him a rabies vaccination and provide a certificate which I then took to a USDA vet for approval. I was supposed to go to the Panamanian embassy to pay a fee of about $100 but since the instructions I received were not clear, I missed that part and instead arrived in Panama with the cash! Somehow, they let me and Billy through; the quarantine is a 2 week home quarantine so not bad at all. Total cost was about $400; I brought my cat, too so it kind of added up.

    Since Billy is small, I was able to keep him in his pet carrier which fit under my seat. I didn’t look into cargo accommodations but you might be able to find good info online since lots of folks travel with their pets. Panama needs more pets and responsible owners so if you do move, you’d both be very welcome!

  3. One dog lover to another they are the best …. as good as they are to us we are to them. I think loving a pet makes us better humans 🙂

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s