Celebrating Friends Through A Puppy’s Eyes
After a lifetime of consistently positive and supportive relationships with pets (companion animals) of several different species, I am convinced that their levels of understanding and compassionate interaction with their human friends have been largely under-estimated, ignored or reduced through the lack of interest or notice by most pet owners or caretakers. This lack of attention or focus is probably the result of the usual self-centered expectations of pet owners of the behavior they want or need from their animals.
The most popular companion animals, dogs or cats, when in their expected homes after breeding and/or adoption from shelters or pet stores usually head home with their new owners as solo animal members of the family. There begins their re-orientation to their new home and all its members and expectations. What we humans get from them is almost always unconditional trust, love and absolute devotion, until or unless we severely abuse that trust in a variety of ways that are all too familiar via the television stories that are almost too horrible to watch for “crittur people” like myself. Being the solo animal member of the family means a single-dimensioned view of their multi-faceted personalities for the human observers. And, we are very busy people who rush through our lives’ schedules; rarely taking the time to really watch and then understand these devoted family members.
My professional travel schedule has frequently required multi-day stays away from home and so I have made a life-time practice of having at least two puppies at a time to give each other company while I am away. That has given me over thirty years of watching my animal companions relate not only to me but also to their buddies. In that time and through those observations I have come to agree strongly with several contemporary writers who have called their companion animals teachers and healers. I have seen them respond to stress and tension between their human family members, with interest and compassion. I have seen them absorb that stress into themselves with fatal results for their aged and fragile health. I have also observed their grief over the anticipated and then consummated loss of one of their own to fatal illness and I have seen them be sympathetic to pain and confusion in their buddies, when they themselves remain calm and comforted.
I would not have seen these genuine attributes of a valued friend, if I had seen only one animal seeking to please only me at all times. I needed to see them as they responded to each other’s happiness and sorrows; victories and pain; peace and anger. As a result, I have come to accept their intelligent, compassionate presence and understanding in a much greater degree than many.
The reports and accounts in Schultze’s Stories are told in the context of that belief, for and to those that I hope will agree with me as they read, regardless of their own age and place in time. And, I hope they will emerge from the reading with a deeper appreciation for those critters who think that their humans are the centers of their lives. These stories are best understood when the reader remembers that most of them occur in Santa Fe, which is a dog-lovers’ town, which is just one of a number of realities that makes it my home.
These stories are told through the eyes of Schultze mein Bruderschatz, a white Miniature Schnauzer (the name will be explained later), who came to the Reid household in a set of unusual circumstances, which he shares in the tale of his coming. The main characters in his stories are the remaining members of his family of Miniature Schnauzers and some of his predecessors who, though passed, were still a part of the memories and influences on those whom he knew directly.
The stories are written for my grandchild, Samantha Rae Reid, during this, the first year of her life, in the hopes that as she grows and hears them, she will come to know her “Granpa Dajim” in ways that might not otherwise be possible over the distances that often separate the lives of people who are very important to each other in this 21st Century of rapid living. Heavy agendas in these times often prevent those quiet moments that used to be the trademarks of the grandparent/grandchild relationships. Perhaps she will get from these stories a heritage of appreciation for her animal “cousins” that might otherwise be missed in the likely frantic pace of the life ahead for her.
For other readers, I have included a “Cast of Characters,” to help orient them to some of Schultze’s special observations without any overdue reliance on reader “intuition.” There is also an Appendix of other items in my reflection on relationships between and among my canine family members.