Why a Dog is Man's Best Friend
Dogs Have a Soul
When I moved to my current home, I inherited a Shepherd mix. I grew to love him as much as I did my own two dogs, but he missed his prior owners who had abandoned him and left him behind. He lay at the end of my new driveway and made a horrible moan for for weeks on end. I coaxed and petted, but he refused food more times than not. Then one day, at what exact hour I can’t be sure, he stopped moaning and accepted my dogs and myself with tail wags and a wet nose. He proved to me that dogs have a soul.
The movie suggests "All Dogs Go to Heaven." While I haven't been to heaven and cannot attest to this assertion, I do know that a dog's existence is very much a part of this life and there is something distinct and unique about the devout, human-like qualities a dog offers their owners. It's just something you can't get with a cat or a parrot. Among the innate good qualities that a dog has, I started this rally cry for dogs with the fact that they have a soul simply because dogs do have a way of outliving us despite their deaths.
Though the afterlife is scientifically unverifiable, I can verify that every dog that I have ever owned was like a human child to me. I have not met a single person who didn't feel the same way about their dog. Perhaps the remaining reasons dogs are man's best friend will help explain why.
Dogs Never Complain
My Shepherd was named HD which is short for "House Dog” (so named because he came with my ‘house’). We shared several wonderful years together until heart worms took him from me. He suffered miserably and sadly, I could not afford the treatment which was over $1000. During his condition he NEVER once complained or moaned about feeling bad (though he did moan when his family left him). Instead, he sought constructive ways to remedy his own pain and noticeably worked to ensure he was not a burden to my other two dogs or myself. For instance, one day we found HD in the pond trying to escape the heat. All that was left showing was his snout. But he was too weak to get out of the pond and we had to rescue him. He was so fiercely independent, even in suffering. Yet when we did offer help, he readily accepted it with gratitude and not belligerence.
As his last days approached, I wanted to be there for House Dog, but could do little to heal or console him. So I slept with him on the basement floor until he passed. And then I wept. All I could do for him was be there but he knew I was there and he showed me that by licking my hands. How can you not love a dog that so unselfishly shows appreciation for their owner, even in suffering.
Dogs can sometimes be annoying because they are all tail wags, wet noses and drool. But they are happy just to have a plate of food they didn't beg for, a warm bed to sleep in, and an owner who doesn't abuse them. Truly, little else is required. However, they deserve so much more.
Dogs Are Playful and Light Spirited
I had three dogs, all of which proved to be playful, appreciative, appropriately serious when scorned and definitively survivalists. They taught me a lot about life if I listened and I quickly saw how well dog attitudes transcend human behavior. As silly as this may sound, I aspire to be more like my dogs than most people I know.
House Dog’s death was inevitable, but his journey was not. He made choices. Those choices were to protect his family by lying on the hilltop each night to ward off the coyotes; to downplay his own pain or suffering rather than elicit sympathy; and to show his appreciation for being loved in the short time he spent with my dogs and I. He enjoyed his life without complaint as though he realized how short life is and every day should be celebrated.
How dogs celebrate life is unique and sometimes annoying. Whenever a dog owner comes home from work, they can depend on their dog(s) to start doing body flips about 20 minutes in advance and 20 minutes after. It's the craziest thing. Just put a surveillance camera in the house and watch the magic. They know! Is it the excitement of being fed? Is it the excitement of companionship? A good dog will chase a bone or stick for hours. I asked a friend once if her dogs acted this way and she said, "yes, definitely — every day after work but not when I go to the grocery store for an hour. It's like they know I'm home for the night." Another friend explained it this way:
My dogs get so excited when I get home that they do repetition tail spins and flips. I read a joke once that said this is a dog's way of saying, "Thank goodness you're home. I thought you were dead. I thought you were dead. Oh, thank goodness."
There's nothing quite as special as the playful spirit of a good dog.
A dog can show us how to put pain behind us.
Dogs Will Put Their Life on the Line for You
In my forties a boyfriend once said, "what do you want me to do, take a bullet for you?" NO, but my dog will.
It's true. Humans are selfish about protecting their own interests first, but a dog will not think twice about putting itself in harm's way to protect you. They are heroic by nature. My daughter has a wolfhound with a growl that rivals Chewbacca and a bark that's worse. While she has a fully functional security system in her home, I take more comfort in knowing that her dog is there to protect her.
There are countless stories of dogs that have died or been injured protecting their owners. Instinctively, dogs act to create a barrier between safety and danger that gives you time to escape harm. The hand that feeds a dog is blessed by the love of that same dog. A dogs loyalty to it's master is akin to a mother bear protecting her cubs. If a dog can't kill or maim a perpetrator, they certainly aim to slow them down.
While I would encourage anyone to read the heartwarming and heart wrenching stories that can be found online, a personal story is in order. A reconnaissance man once told me that all he had to do was toss out some fried chicken and he could distract a dog long enough to hook up a car and be out of there (incidentally, the bones could choke the dog). Well, that doesn't always work. A shepherd named Glory didn't take too kindly to a recon effort and not only did she ignore the chicken, she enjoyed a little calf meat mixed with wrist bone.
Incidentally, the boyfriend who dodges bullets is no longer a friend or boyfriend. But my dog, he's a friend and protector for life!