The dog. "Man's best friend". It's not an exaggeration. At 45 years old, I've been lucky to have been the owner of some wonderful dogs. Currently I have an eight year old basset hound (Miles), and a one year old golden retriever (Murphy). There are times when my house would be cleaner, quieter, and have a more pleasant aroma without them, but I wouldn't trade them for the world.
Dogs have an uncanny way of making us take a closer look at ourselves, and our values. After all...what does a dog need? Food, water, a soft place to lie down, and the occasional tummy rub or scratch behind the ears. And in return they give us undying affection, love, and loyalty. They are truly remarkable creatures.
|My cousin's dog "Penny" Collins: 3/31/2000-6/8/2012|
Yet despite all that "cruelty", they gleefully wag their tails and bark every time we come home...and what do they get in return? A brief pat on the head, and sometimes even a "be quiet!". But they don't mind. They're just glad to see us. Glad to see that the rest of the "pack" has returned safely from whatever journey they were on. And whether we were gone five minutes, or five days, the greeting is just as enthusiastic.
Dogs also have a remarkable ability to sense pain or sickness...whether it's physical or emotional. When I lie on my couch feeling blue for whatever reason, the dogs seem to sense my mood, and make the effort to be even closer to me, as if to say "we're here if you need a friend." If you have a cut or wound, a dog's first instinct is to lick it clean for you. And for those of you who just had your gag reflex triggered, it might interest you to know that canine saliva is very antiseptic, and actually will help clean the wound.
We can learn from a dog's lack of prejudice as well. Dogs don't see breeds. They see other dogs. They see potential playmates (or just mates). They see someone to romp and wrestle with. They'll just as happily play with and lie next to a friend who is a homeless mutt as they would one of their own purebred pedigree.
They sleep...they eat...they play...and - from time to time - they make little doggies. Not much else to this uncomplicated group of animals. They have no concept of how amazingly short their life will be, because they don't think in terms of years. They just live...enjoying each day, each sunny spot on the patio, each muddy puddle, and each stray piece of food dropped by mistake. Truly, lives spent without regret.
No, if you don't own a dog, you don't know. You just don't. You might think of sweeping endless piles of hair from the floor, or mopping muddy prints on a routine basis, or how much damage "accidents" could cause to your carpet or flooring. And every bit of that is true...and more. But what you get in return for a little bit of inconvenience and dirt, comes back to you a hundred-fold in the joy and warmth you get knowing that you have a friend...forever.
I've often heard the phrase "a dog's life", in reference to someone who has it tough. You know, I'm not sure that's entirely accurate. I'll take one "dog's life" to go please. Thanks.
Written in memory of "Penny" Collins. Loving friend to my cousin and his family. God bless her memory. March 31, 2000 - June 8, 2012