November 5: (Wo)Man’s Best Friend
I am indebted to my youngest.
If it were not for Mandy – her fear of dogs and her pleas to buy an adorable lab puppy – I would never have known the unconditional love of a devoted canine.
Since that time, Ralf has sired four litters – 29 puppies in all – and we have adopted five dogs: Ralf (seen here… our 10.5 year old lab) – Mia (his devoted spouse who died much too young) – Jude (his son from our last litter, whom we lost in April) – Bella (riddled with health challenges but adorable none the less; she is greatly missed) – and Feeny (the “basset” – the strong-willed child who has won our hearts).
I wish I had owned dogs before I had children – I would have been a better parent. For example, Feeny has taught me that defiance is not lack of love or respect … it is just a need to exhibit independence. Ralf has taught me that highly sensitive individuals need nothing more than a crossed look to feel shame and remorse. Mia and Jude taught me that sitting on the couch next to the one that you love is not a waste of time, it is the most special time in the world.
I can come home from a week-long trip or a five-minute trek to the mailbox, and I am still greeted with the same warm embrace: tails wagging, voices whining, and sniffs and licks all around. They are always happy to see me – anytime. And while dogs may have attitude… they do not talk back!
I normally prefer neat, clean and orderly – but when it comes to my dogs, I don’t mind hairs on my clothes – on the furniture – and embedded in the carpet. I know it means that they are nearby, and these hairs represent love, loyalty, and immeasurable joy.
But I think the most valuable lessons these dogs have shown me is… love does not hold grudges. Love thinks the best, not the worst, in one another. I can’t tell you how many times I have neglected to fill the water bowl – or the food bowl – and rather than giving me the cold shoulder, these dogs have just nuzzled me close, wagged their tails, and shown immense gratitude that I eventually remembered.
So today I am grateful for all my dogs – past, present, and even future. They show my how to prioritize life and live it to the fullest.