, Salem, MA


January 4, 2013

How could I not recognize my own dog?

Q: I have a West Highland terrier named Max. He is Mr. Personality, a wonderful Westie — high-spirited, sometimes bossy and always amusing. I take him to be groomed regularly at a place that only handles Westies. When I picked up Max recently from this dog spa, I was annoyed to find the groomer had put the wrong collar on my dog. She also handed me the wrong leash.

Max surprised me when he jumped right into the car. He’s never done that before. When we got home, he promptly pooped twice in the kitchen. More unusual behavior. Later that evening, he refused to go into his crate, his sanctuary. Finally, my youngest son spotted an impostor: “Mom, this dog isn’t Max.” My stomach turned. I knew he was right.

Turns out I had picked up another dog at the groomer. No wonder the groomer handed me the wrong leash and collar. I had confused Westie Max with Westie Eddie. When I went to pick Max up at Eddie’s house, my dog was living the high life at a beautiful estate. He barely looked up when I arrived to fetch him and deposit Eddie. However, in a flash of wonderful recognition, he kissed me madly and seemed eager to get home. Now, everything has returned to normal, but I’m still rattled. How could I not recognize my own dog?

A: Sometimes, the people we love most are the people we see least. You live with your family every day of your life and, yet, how often do you really take the time to look at them, to admire them, to savor their aspects? Your letter suggests we should pay more attention. Even if they look the same, no two living creatures are the same. It is the beauty of diversity.

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