Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why We Love Dogs

Sarah and I have 2 dogs: Emmylou, a 3 year-old Golden Retriever, and Rookie, Emmylou’s 10-month old son – the runt of her 5-puppy litter. They sleep on our bed and rule our daily lives. Rookie sends out a sweet bark about 5:00 AM every morning announcing that he is awake. It is not so much a demanding bark as it is playful; as if to say, ‘I am awake and ready to eat, shit and smell another dog’s butt. Would anyone like to join me?’ He typically makes this announcement on Sarah’s side of the bed, as she is considerably more lovely and gracious in the morning than I. What Rookie really wants, however, is his mom’s attention – Emmylou, that is. Emmylou is not so quick to respond, wishing rather to roll over and get another hour of sleep. But Rookie persists until Sarah responds, opens the front door, lets Rookie outside, picks up the morning paper, turns on the morning news, fires up the coffee and our day begins. Emmylou and I stumble into the kitchen about 30 minutes later. Sarah and I fill their bowls with food and water. They depend on us for that. In return they lay by our feet wherever we choose to sit. They follow us anywhere we choose to go. They sit, lie down and roll over to impress our family and friends. They sound ferocious when strangers approach our home. They dance with joy when we return home at the end of the day. They follow us into the bathroom and lick the water off our legs when we exit the shower. They come when we call. They remember our children when they come home. They guard our elderly mothers when they come to town – neither of which are particularly fond of dogs. They brighten the lives of those we meet in the parks and on the trails. They wag their tails in delight. They are entirely honest – they do not beat around the bush; in fact, they smell it, circle it and then, if it meets their standards, they pee on it. They know when we’ve had a bad day or are feeling under the weather and respond by giving us our space or snuggling close. They have wonderfully bad breath and are not embarrassed by it. They roll in mud and enjoy it. They are perfectly happy to be outside in bad weather. They listen when we talk to them and no other human beings are present – and they seem to comprehend. They have no opinion when we reach for a third helping of dinner or pour the drink that will take us beyond the tipping point. They adore us, they live for us and they long for our attention. They have no idea that we are despicable, conniving, selfish, grudge-carrying people. This is why we love dogs.


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