This Christmas (and every other day of the year!), it seems my house is “going to the dogs”, as folks are fond of saying. I think this expression is supposed to indicate something bad, like, perhaps, one’s house is run-down or not very clean or not orderly or not calm and quiet.
Hmmm … Now that I think about it, my house is most of those things. I don’t believe it falls into the category of “run-down”, but it’s definitely chaotic, noisy, and more than a little bit messy. I believe I have confessed, many times before, that I am not the world’s best housekeeper. This continues to be true, although I have not lost hope that there is a neat-freak type of person hiding somewhere deep down inside my soul. At the most unexpected moment, she might pop up and take control. It hasn’t happened yet, but, hey — nothing’s impossible.
Still, I never could think of the phrase “going to the dogs” as a bad thing. I’m a dog person at heart. So, each time I heard this phrase (usually accompanied with a disapproving shake of the head and spoken in the same half-whispered tone reserved for the most horrendously shocking family secrets) as a child, I couldn’t figure out what the terrible, big deal was. My mind conjured up images of open fields where dogs frolicked and played. Or big houses with wrap-around porches, where they lazed in the shade of the small table that held a glass of lemonade or iced tea. Or, maybe, twisting and turning forest paths where dogs ran and ran and ran, chasing their own shadows and having the best kind of fun. It just never seemed like a bad thing. To me, any place that was full of dogs had to be a pretty darn good place in which to be.
I still feel that way, even as an adult. If I had my way, we would have a big, old pack of dogs. Dozens and dozens of them. Of course, our house isn’t nearly big enough to accommodate this … and I’m not an animal hoarder. Even if something feels like a great or fun idea in the abstract, I am able to recognize that the reality wouldn’t be so wonderful. Plus, my husband would divorce me. I am sure of this.
But, even with just two of the critters, my house has gone to the dogs. Happily so. I don’t have open fields or the big house of my dreams, complete with wrap-around porch. My dogs frolic up and down the stairs. They wrestle with each other on the landings and in front of the TV, snarling and growling and wagging their tails. They greet me with joyful barks when I return home — even if I’ve only been gone for five or ten minutes. They camp out under the table, happily snagging any bits of food that might fall within tongue’s reach and keeping my floor clean at the same time. They are noisy and rowdy and rambunctious and crazy and ever so much fun.
And you know what? I was right, even as a kid. A place full of dogs is a pretty darn good place in which to be.