So far, my 30 Plus years of dog ownership have taught me that I always have more to learn. I should never be complacent in thinking I know the right way to do things.
I have learned about trust and I have learned about the value of being dependable.
I have learned about forgiveness.
I have learned how to be a better neighbor.
I have learned to never underestimate a dog’s loyalty. Do not ever underestimate his or her ability to be protective of the pack.
I have learned that sleeping with dogs is not such a bad thing. Unless it is in the summer and you have no air conditioning.
I have learned how to be brave even when facing an unknown threat.
I have learned how to step in and help or to take charge when others are scared.
I have learned a lot about unconditional love. Loving someone and being loyal to them is possible even when you have been neglected and left outside to fend for yourself.
I have learned about the depth of grief for the loss of a loved one, and the sense of powerlessness when you watch the loved one die, or the guilt over feeling that you haven’t done everything in your power to stop the loss.
I have learned that sometimes you really can’t undo your past. All you can do is learn from your mistakes and go forward. I have learned that mistakes hurt. But, if you pay attention you really do become a better person.
Living with dogs has helped me grow in my own capacities for human emotions. Many folks say that a dog is an animal, and animals do not have the capacity for emotion. A dog’s place was outside according to my grandparents. They were part of the livestock, and they had a job to do: protect the other livestock. I’ve had friends tell me they would never allow a dog into their house because they are messy and dirty.
I got mixed messages from my parents while growing up. Sometimes our dogs would be allowed inside, but my parents’ attitude still seemed to be one of “they are only animals.”
I shared that opinion when we got our first dog, Spike, and continued with our second dog, Katie. We wouldn’t let them in the house, except on rare occasions. We treated them more like animals than family members.
Opening our home to PD, and then Henry, and then Frank has really changed my mind about a dog’s capacity for emotion. These dogs, pets, family members have changed my mind about my capacity to learn of my own humanity and emotional attachments.
They’ve also changed my mind about dirt. I mean really, is dirt that evil? People lived on dirt floors for centuries, and it brushes right off. Surely it isn’t healthy for you to avoid contact with all dirt.
Whether they were outdoors dogs or inside dogs, they have all helped me learn about unconditional love, and all of the emotions that come along with that kind of love.
My dogs will continue to amaze me and to amuse me. And I am sure there are new lessons out there for me to learn from PD and Frank. But for now, it is time to say goodbye to those of you who have been reading along with me. It is time to put these musing about living with dogs aside. I have enjoyed writing these memories. The writings have helped to examine my own thoughts, feelings and behavior, and have helped me gain some self-insight. Hopefully, these have been of interest to you, the reader, as well.
Thank you Spike. Thank you Katie, Thank you Henry. Thank you PD and Frank for the lessons you have taught me.
And thank you, Reader, for following along as I’ve relived the adventures I have shared with these wonderful family members.