Bob Bestler

Why doesn’t everyone have a dog?

Wasabi as a puppy.
Wasabi as a puppy.

My dog Wasabi and I were talking the other night — yes, he gets quite chatty when you mention the word “treat” — and in the middle of our conversation I had to ask the question: Why doesn’t everyone have a dog?

I know the old political advice: If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. It’s lonely at the top and I notice that most every president has done just that, gotten a dog.

When our corgi Zoe died about two years ago, we tried life with just a cat. We love Bo, but life wasn’t the same without a dog. Cats hardly ever lick you on the lips.

So we got Wasabi, a mix of cocker and bichon frise.

When we mentioned to a friend we got another dog, he asked, simply, “Why?”

The better question, I think, is “Why not?”

Dogs make life better, ease the daily stress, give one a reason for getting up every morning. Besides, a dog can fill that hole left after the last kid has gone.

Millions of others feel the same way. According to the American Pet Products Association, 54.4 million households have at least one dog, about 44 percent of all households. Those with cats come to 35 percent.

Make no mistake. Wasabi can be a rascal and has ruined more than one pair of shoes.

But he’s learning. Now he just picks up a shoe or a sandal and brings it to us — since we seem to want those things so badly.

And he’s ripped up about a dozen newspapers, looking, I suppose, for doggie ads.

Wasabi and I take daily walks, usually twice a day around the village, sometimes a third walk to the post office. I do it for his exercise, but it’s kept me in condition, as well, without those monthly fitness center fees.

Nobody — or should I say nothing — loves one as unconditionally as a dog. If I’m away for two hours, he welcomes me home as if it had been two weeks. Tuesday, after a long day of golf, he jumped in my lap and gave my face about 20 sloppy licks. Maybe he feared I’d succumbed to the heat.

We bought Wasabi during a camping trip to a state park near Pickens so his first few nights with us were in a camper. So now he loves camping. He loves the smells of a new place, loves the fact that we take him with us everywhere.

Last week, camping near Beaufort we took him to one of several dog-friendly restaurants.

Wasabi jumped on the bench next to Elaine and sat there, much as a well-behaved child, his head peering over the table.

Everyone loved it — and he's no fool: He got a few morsels of food for his good behavior.

But isn’t that how we reward all of our children ... er, pets. He is just a pet, isn't he?

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