Today’s blog is brought to you by a reader who will remain unidentified because I didn’t get her permission to splay her name across cyberspace, and I’ve learned that I can burn through friends quickly by shining the spotlight on them when they think they’re hidden.
Anyway, she suggested I write about dogs because their unconditional love is a vital comfort in these troubled times. I couldn’t agree more, and although I don’t own a dog at this time because our cat simply would not permit it, I’ve been on the receiving end of that unconditional devotion many times, and so, dogs it is…
My friend might chuckle to know that I’m writing this DESPITE my incredibly Pomeranian morning, during which I had to wrestle my neighbor’s pint-sized ball of teeth into the tub, not once, but twice, because her delicate constitution became, well…matted.
Neighbor Pom aside, I do love most dogs. I cannot remember a time growing up when our family did not have at least one, and usually two canines on duty. My favorite pairing was Barnacle the Saint Bernard (so named because he would help us scrape said critters off the boat hull), and Dickens the mutt (so named because she ran like it. She’d race alongside the car on Sunday mornings when we went to church, which was more than a mile away, and be waiting when we arrived. Dad would unload us all and then whistle for her to get in for the ride home). Dickens, who was about the size of a toaster, had the heart of a Viking warrior. Barnacle was as big as a house and had the heart of a koala. He was a clinger—a loveable, drooling, clearly mis-categorized lap dog.
We particularly enjoyed watching the show whenever the water dude came to our back door to read the meter. He’d eyeball Barnacle like a prison escapee sneaking past a sleeping guard. Barnacle, always an eager greeter, would bound forward as far as his rope would allow (that thing didn’t hold him back, mind you, it just gave visitors a false sense of safety) and just howl. In Barnacle-ese, he was likely saying (through a spray of slobber), “Oh boy, oh boy! Welcome! Come on over and let’s cuddle!” Then, as the unsuspecting victim edged cautiously toward the meter, Dickens would leap out from seemingly nowhere and nip his ankles.
Most of our utility bills were estimates.
We even kept a dog when the family moved onto a boat for a while. Brandy, our seafaring Malamute, had to learn how to leap from the ladder to the boat deck, and back to the pier. Occasionally she missed, but she enjoyed any chance to share the joys of life on the water with her humans, and so considered the sporatic sea bath part of the job.
Our family pets were usually large dogs. Good dogs. Well, there was one mean-spirited dachshund named Gidget who only lasted two days because she didn’t care for my dad, but she didn’t understand that his was the hand that fed…and she bit it. Repeatedly. Dad loved his dogs. They were all his before any of us could lay claim. Even my sister’s dog, Boots, a golden retriever mix of some sort, took to my Dad like a surrogate. I think it was Boots my parents found in the kitchen (after they’d been away one evening) standing over a pool of blood, grinning as much as a dog can grin. By the looks of the room, significant activity had taken place there, but they’ll never know what happened except that Boots had done his job.
We could learn a lot from dogs, particularly with regard to how we treat each other. Dogs are fiercely loyal, quick to forgive, and grateful for our every kindness toward them, and they’re happy to see us come home, whether we’ve been deployed six months in a foreign land or we just stepped out to get the mail. A dog will sit quietly by your side when you’re sad and will dance with you when you’re glad. Dogs will not share your secrets with others or tell you what to do when you tell them your worries. When a dog looks into your eyes, you can see full love and devotion—no deceit, no distraction; you are the center of the universe.
Oh, that we would treat each other the way dogs do. I believe that it would make the world a better place…although perhaps a bit more slobbery.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. –1 Corinthians 13:4-8