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January 2, 2014

Life Before Dogs

My new favourite website (besides my own) is I've always heard of it but never went there thinking it was just another pale-in-comparison search engine. I soon found out it is not a search engine at all but an avenue to helping one find websites that are specific to the interests of the user.

In my never-ending search for blog topics I found that there are some great places to look for topics on the web and StumbleUpon is one resource that I have quickly become addicted to.

As I was stumbling I came across an obscure website called One of the topics of this website was “Life before Dogs vs. Life after Dogs.” It was a great collection of pictures and GIFs depicting certain aspects of your life before a dog and your life after a dog. Really great stuff, I highly recommend checking it out.

But this got me seriously asking myself, “What was my life like before I had a dog?”

I've pretty much had a dog in my life since I can remember. We always had a family dog when I was a kid. As I got older and moved away from home, there were times I lived without a dog and I can't say I really felt like my life was empty without a dog in the house.

Looking back at the times as a kid, I never paid much attention to our family dogs and when one of them passed away I don’t remember feeling all that sad about it. However, I often think back fondly about one dog in particular, a border collie named Micky. I remember what a nice, friendly dog she was. I really do miss her but I don’t remember crying or feeling a sense of loss when she died.

I have to think more recently in the past, 12 or 13 years, when I met my wife and we lived together for the first time. We had three cats (all hers) and no dogs at the time. We rented a condo along Centre Street in the north and having a dog was not an option for us at the time. We lived there for about three years before moving to our own house in McKenzie back in November 2004. Mrs. Nate insisted she wanted a dog now that we owned a house and by March 2005 we had our first dog, Mojo.

We got him as a puppy through the Bargain Finder (if anyone remembers that before Kijiji came along). Of course this was before we knew any better about adopting and rescuing dogs.

Life before Mojo was pretty “even”. We did our thing and it we seemed like we had much more freedom. The cats could be left alone for quite some time before I started to worry about them being home alone. They were free fed and had access to the kitty litter so no biggie if we went out after work instead of heading straight home.

Pretty sure we had more disposable income as well.

Life after Mojo came into the house was completely different. We thought we were prepared for a puppy but we were wrong! He took all our time. We spent a fortune on an X-pen, supplies, food, puppy training classes and cleaning products. The cats hated him; one even died after she refused to eat and came down with a fatal case of fatty liver disease.

I used play video games on weekend mornings and that time was cut short entertaining the new puppy. I was a little bitter about that let me tell you!

As Mojo got older we started to take him on regular evening walks. I hated that at first too but I finally saw that it wasn’t only for his benefit it was for mine as well. I got to see our neighbourhood, enjoy the outdoors and even saw some interesting things like rabbits, deer and owls. Not to mention it got our butts off the couch for 30-60 minutes every night.

It may sound as if I thought my life was better before Mojo came along but it wasn’t. He was and still is a huge joy in our lives. I can’t imagine what it will be like when he’s gone, my heart fills with sorrow just thinking about it. I may not have had much emotion about my childhood dogs passing away but now that I’ve been responsible for Mojo from a puppy and he is truly our dog, I have a feeling both Mrs. Nate and I are both going to need full-on bereavement leave from work when his time comes.

Nearly four years after getting Mojo we decided it was time to get him a little friend.

Enter Oscar. We rescued him from a fly-by-night, shady rescue organization called Furever After. Dealing with them was a nightmare and I’m glad they are gone. At least they brought Oscar into our lives (even though to this day Mojo despises him).

Again we had some huge adjustments to make in our daily lives as Oscar came with a few issues.

  • He was a “marker” and peed in the house.
  • He had an attitude that tended to get him in trouble with the bigger dogs.
  • He had zero recall and would run off any chance he got.
We had one dog with none of these issues and added one with all of them!

We’ve had Oscar now for about four years and he still pees in the house if we aren’t careful but he has improved in all the other aspects by at least 80%. If anything, Oscar taught us a lot!

So life before dogs was nice but it was uneventful and the house had more of an empty feeling. Life after dogs? 100 times better! For a ton of reasons I won’t go into here, I’m sure they’re probably the same reasons for you.

If I had to pinpoint it down to one thing, it would be that I’m so much more aware of dogs as a whole. I’m more in touch with the dog world, the plight of dogs in our society and the incredible amount of devotion people show towards dog rescue and promoting responsible pet guardianship.

I no longer see dogs as a thing to own but as a loving, caring being that has thoughts, feelings and a ton of love to share with anyone who will accept it.