There has been an average of one school shooting per week in 2018. In the US, 20 people each minute are victims of domestic violence. Two men are about to stand trial for the torment and ultimate death of a dog while filming it on social media, at which time they declared, “Michael Vick’s got nothing on us.” I could list example after example to show that there are some really awful, awful people in this world, and I bet you could list a few too.
So you’ll probably understand how I feel: the more I know people, the more I like dogs.
There is something so comforting about coming home to our nine dogs. And if you have been to our house, you know that it’s pretty much always chaotic, so “comforting” is not a word most people would use to describe it. See, our dogs don’t all get along with each other and have to be “rotated” in groups. There’s always dog hair everywhere. Most of our dogs have distinct personality traits, ranging from cute, little idiosyncratic tendencies to medically managed issues that require a lot of patience and understanding. And yet there is a peace that I get from being around the dogs that I just don’t get anywhere else because…
Dogs are always happy to see you. When I get home, my English Mastiff Thor (he’s 200 lbs, by the way) literally jumps off the ground and starts bucking around like a horse. Sometimes he even makes a circle or two! I have to watch my toes around him and be careful not to put my head too close to his while he’s in motion; my toes have been stepped on plenty of times, and it’s not uncommon to end up with a bruised face if our heads collide. But I don’t care. Thor’s unbridled exuberance can make me smile even when I am exhausted.
Dogs don’t demand anything from you. If I just plop down on the couch, here they come to be with me. If I go to my office, they follow right behind me and sit by my chair. If I go to the restroom, they all pile in with me (they clearly have no understanding of personal space!). None of them asks what’s for dinner or needs to be driven to basketball practice. They just want to be as close to me as possible, all the time.
Dogs are happier than most people. Have you ever been around a dog who’s on a chain or living some other sad, neglected existence? Even though their lives are awful, they usually perk up and wag their tails so much that their whole bodies shake when they get any attention. That simple act is such a powerful lesson about seizing every moment of happiness, no matter how often or not it may come along.
Dogs love you more than they love themselves. I believe that so strongly that we have the quote on the wall of our entryway. I only had my Neapolitan Mastiff Tank for about six months (that’s a long, sad rescue story for another day), and he had almost no use of his rear legs. I used a lift device to help him move. And yet, you have never seen any animal move faster than Tank when he thought someone was going to harm me. He literally looked like a crocodile moving along the grass in those situations! And Thor, who despite his massive size is afraid of his own shadow, would jump through a window to protect me if I needed it. I can count on one hand the people I think would sacrifice their lives for mine.
Dogs are who they are. You pretty much always know what you’re getting with dogs. Even if they become better trained or more obedient, their personalities stay pretty constant. Thor is afraid of small things and lawn equipment. Titus is a tough guy who incidentally wears a diaper….but he owns it. Pippin wants to be friends with other dogs but doesn’t recognize that coming at them like a steamroller is not the best way to introduce herself. They’re all quirky, but they don’t have hidden agendas. They have never spent time planning an attack on anyone. Dogs forgive the crappiest of owners, even when they shouldn’t. Their needs are simple, and they are so appreciative of every kindness. They just want to love and be loved.
I don’t know any human being who possess all these traits. It can’t be a coincidence that dog spelled backwards is god. I mean, who but God could live up to the extremely high standards set by dogs??
~ Amy Short