Recently, one of the regular readers, I'm sorry but I've forgotten who is was, asked me to write about my dogs, Rosie and Alice. They are two aging Airedale Terriers now 12 and 11 years old. Rosie is a rescue dog that had been badly treated by her first owners. We found her after our first Airedale, Murphy, died of auto-immune disease at the age of 18 months. When I phoned the breeder to order a puppy, she told me about Rosie because she was the same age that Murphy was. I ordered the puppy but decided to buy Rosie as well. Alice came along about three months later, she is Rosie's niece.
Rosie had a lot of pain in her hips when she first arrived here because she had been ridden like a horse by two little boys. In those early days she growled at Hanno and our sons, if they touched her around the back legs. She never growled at me so I think it was only men and boys who mistreated her. We started treating her with emu oil in her food and after a while it looked like she got over the soreness and eventually came to trust all of us.
When we started to live as we do now, I wondered how non-working dogs could fit into our more frugal lives. The cost associated with the dogs - good food, vet bills etc, might be seen as an unnecessary expense. If Rosie or Alice got sick or injured, we would face hefty vet bills. They were our responsibility and we required of ourselves that they be looked after as well as we possibly could. How could we justify the keeping of them? Could they fit within the framework of a simple life?
I thought about this quite a bit early on and came to the conclusion that not only did they fit within our new philosophy of life, they would help us live to our values. I believe the way I live is not only about reducing the complexity of my life but also about finding joy and beauty in the ordinary and mundane things I surround myself with. I believe that we must find our own happiness not in the shiny high cost items on sale in our shopping malls or European holidays, flash cars or large houses, but in what we already have in our life. It is our responsibility to make ourselves happy with with less - much less. I find a lot of joy in natural things - our garden, the chooks, and of course, Rosie and Alice.
Their main value however, is that they make us happy. They make us smile. They jump for joy when we come home. They play with us and and make us laugh when they chase each other like a couple of clowns.
Simple living is not about deprivation. It is about finding joy in the ordinary and living well within our means. Our lives are made better by sharing our home and our resources with Rosie and Alice. We have found a way to keep them in good health without it costing too much but above all else we love them and they're part of our family. I would find it difficult to live without a dog at my side.