Doris Soloway by the Forward

The pros and cons of having a Jewish dog mom

Courtesy of Elaine Soloway

Lucky you! The pandemic has spurred dog adoption to an all-time high. There’s likely just a few of you still hanging around. So take this time to be picky.

I wasn’t as lucky. It took me weeks to coax someone to choose me. You see, I was transported from the South by van, and brought with trauma, sensitivity to sounds and fear around people. No wonder no one rushed to choose me!

So when this old lady came seeking a companion, I figured she looked harmless and batted my eyelashes enough to watch her melt.

Now that we’ve lived together for over a year, I thought it pertinent to paw a text to you with advice. On the whole, I’m content with my “mother,” but honesty is important. So I’m sharing the pros and cons of going home with an old Jewish widow, which is whom I chose.

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Pro: She will feed you her leftovers. The Jewish people are known for their love of food. There will be bits of chicken, cheese, roast beef, even pizza! Sure I still get gross bits of dog food, which I scarf down just to show obedience, but it’s the tasty extras that win me over.

Con: I have gained 10 pounds since I was adopted. Gone is my svelte torso that slimmed toward the tail. Sadly, the male dogs at my park disdain this shape.

Pro: She will allow you to sleep in her bed. Because she’s a widow, she’s convinced a warm body near her will improve repose. No complaints from me! Doggy beds are too confining, and don’t get me started on sleeping on the floor.

Con: She snores! When I paw and lick her in the morning to wake her, she doesn’t complain because she thinks it’s love. But truthfully, I just need her out of the bed so I can get some rest.

Pro: The widow part is important because she will be eager for companionship and will want you at her side throughout the day. If she has to leave the house for an hour or so, she will assure you with hugs and treats that she’ll return soon.

Con: I need some alone time! There are books to chew, cabinets to explore and clothing to sniff. It’s a good thing I have superior hearing as it allows me to gauge when she’s coming down the hall. This gives me enough time to put things right, and rush to the door when she opens it and jump up with excited kisses.

Pro: I specifically said “Jewish.” Now I realize that other religions share these attributes, but from my experience, Jewish mothers surpass others. For example, she has two adult children who could do no wrong and she is raising me with this same philosophy. Barking too much? Instead of a scold, it’s “Sweetheart, what’s troubling you? There’s no one in the hallway to scare us. Let Mommy hug you.”

Con: It can be suffocating. Sometimes, I just want to be naughty, do something outrageously wrong. But when I flinch her furry earmuffs for a snip of the fake fur, instead of reprimanding me, she laughs and says, “What a clever girl.” That’s no fun.

Pro: I don’t know if this is specifically a Jewish thing, but when we leave the house to go to the dog park, she packs a purse with so many treats that I never have to worry if there are enough to award me for #1 and #2, or if there are doggie bags to grab what I’ve deposited.

Con: Her anxiety is contagious. I understand her packing the iPhone and aforementioned plastic bags, and of course her apartment keys. But why all of her credit and ID cards? Perhaps it’s because I one day overheard (yes, my hearing is that good) her claiming that she loads as if an apocalypse might arrive in the 20 minutes we’re out of the house. I’m not sure what that is, but it sounds like a Jewish thing, and it definitely freaks me out.

Pro: I don’t know if it’s because every Jewish mother wants her children to be a doctor or marry one, but my mom keeps me healthy with regular visits to the vet.

Con: If I cough — let’s say a bit of a tasty bacon-wrapped glycerin bone gets caught in my throat — she comes running. “No more bone treats!” she says, threatening to cut off my supply. That’s my cue to cut the drama. “Nothing to see here,” I signal with a smile and kiss to her old nose.

Doris Soloway is a Jack Russell Terrier mix and was 1.5 years old when she was adopted by Elaine Soloway, who is the author of “The Division Street Princess” and other books. She came from a shelter in Stuart, Florida, and was originally named Ziva, but Elaine changed the name when she ran into Doris Martinkus, a therapist from Integrative Pet Care, who had helped her with a prior pet.

The pros and cons of having a Jewish dog mom

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