Dogs are part of the family

Published 9:28 pm Saturday, February 11, 2012

While reading the newspaper Thursday, I happened upon an advertisement by Nat Rudolph, who owns Carpet Plus. Nat, who was one of the first people to welcome me to Selma five years ago, is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet and a good businessman. The ad was not about the sale he was running on carpet or tile, or about the quality customer service his business gives – which they do. It was a testimonial about his dog, Levi, who died Jan. 28.

As a dog owner, the ad struck a chord with me. My family owns a dog. She’s a small Chihuahua – Terrier mix that we adopted from the local animal shelter. We would not take anything for her, so I understand Nat and his wife Vicki’s heartache as they mourn the loss of Levi.

I’ve visited Nat at Carpet Plus many times the past five years and got to know Levi, as I’m sure about half of Selma has, either in person or from him being featured in one of Carpet Plus’ newspaper ads.

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One ad featuring a dog that looked a little like Levi actually won an Alabama Press Association award for “best humor.” It showed the dog, standing on his back legs with a broom and dustpan in his paws sweeping up – well, you know. I always chuckled when I saw that ad because having a dog that can do that is every dog owner’s dream – and I have no doubt folks thought it was Levi in the ad, thus enhancing his reputation. Levi always welcomed me when I visited Carpet Plus. He would let me scratch his head, rub his back or ask him questions (he never replied) or he’d just lie there, giving me that “why did you wake me up” look.

But he never disappointed and I always left there feeling better than when I’d arrived. There are studies that say folks who own a pet live longer than those who don’t. I’m not partial to believing everything a “study” says, but I know the results of that one must be true. Pets give their lives to us.

They trust we’ll take care of them, love them and in return they give us their love, faithfulness and companionship – the only things they have to give.

They make us happy when we need cheering up, they make us laugh by the silly things they do, and yes, they make us sad when they die.

But they create long lasting memories and make us better for having known them. After getting to know Levi for the short time I did, I know he gave that and so much more to Nat, Vicki and the rest of us who were fortunate enough to meet him.