With a rash of animal abuse cases headlining the news of late, I have spent a lot more time squeezing my dog. My way of thinking is that maybe giving her extra love will help ease the hurt so many other animals are going through by way of universal goodness. Ultimately, I don’t think it’s the dogs that need more love, but the humans. I’ve noticed there seems to be a really weird “vibe” in the air lately – one that is seriously lacking in shared kindness. Whether it’s the intense heat or infiltration of biting bugs (or both), I have been the recipient of daily encounters with individuals whose grouchiness has climbed to expert levels. Personally, I think the world just needs a little less crotchety and a little more canine. (That has the makins’ of a country song…)
There’s something about being able to share your life with a beloved pup – your entire world oozes awesomeness; it becomes simpler even. Less overthinking, more living in the moment. I’ve said for years that dogs build communities. I wouldn’t know a quarter of the people in my neighbourhood if I didn’t take my Dora for a walk every day. Not only do I know most of my neighbours (admittedly by their dog) but I’ve discovered how interesting many of them are – from one couple’s worldly travels to another’s search for the city’s best Polish food. My introverted, keep to myself persona has been thrust into the extroverted world of community building all thanks to my dog’s boldness of walking up to complete strangers in order to demand a pat on the head. “Sorry, but she just needs you to acknowledge her.” I mean, if I were to do that I’d expect to be formed into the psyche ward by now. When you enter into a relationship with another creature, whether it be a dog, cat, monkey, or horse, such a connection is nothing short of magic. In the wild, for two differing species to associate with one another is rare – the predator/prey; food/not-food association applies. Domestication aside, the fact that we humans have the privilege of sharing our lives with furry companions is a thing of beauty – and should be treated as such.
When we take on the care of another animal, we are entering into a contract not only of obligation but of love and empathy. We must accept that some moments will be more challenging than others. My KING sized bed is no longer my own, but the calming effect a sleeping dog has had on me is light years better than any anti-anxiety medicine could ever deliver. I no longer rely on the annoying sound of an alarm clock to wake me – gentle puppy kisses and the occasional paw to the face have that duty now. Vegging on the sofa watching Netflix is way better when you can share it with a fuzzy friend. When I signed up to be a dog mom I did so with great pride and joy, but with some trepidation. I have learned a lot over the last ten years, and have also resigned myself in many ways. I have cleaned up everything from liquid diarrhea to foul smelling vomit – both in my bedroom. I have chased after Dora in my pajamas, meeting new neighbours along the way. It’s now not uncommon for me to say things like, “Do you have an itchy bum?”; or “That’s not floor food”; or the classic, “I have to go to work to pay for the life you’ve become accustomed to”(which is usually in response to the heartbreaking puppy eyes Dora flashes anytime I reach for my car keys and not her leash.) I talk to my little Dora Bean as if she was human, and in many ways, I see her as one. Her presence has opened my heart in more ways then I could ever comprehend. When I signed up to be her partner in life I unknowingly signed on to experience some of the best days of my life, and one of the worst.
For me, Dora, and all dogs for that matter, symbolize the curiosity that is left in the world – a sense of wonder and discovery; the epitome of love and forgiveness. She’ll make me laugh and frustrate me in the same breath. During my not so good days, when I sometimes squeeze her a little too hard, I do so with the hope that her kindness and innocence will rub off. One gentle lick and all the bad washes away in a sea of all that is wonderful and right.
Even when there are bad days and mean people, there are always dogs – and, for me, they make the world much more livable. What more could we ask for?