FOR THE LOVE OF DOGS - WHY DOGS LEAVE SUCH A MEMORABLE MARK ON OUR HEARTS AND SOULS
I found my silly looking dog, Dingo, at the shelter almost three years ago. She was shivering in a corner; a 28lb skeleton with mange and just barely out of a 10 day quarantine for pneumonia. I took her in, cared for her as she became a 50lb healthy dog.
She also went from being a timid, shy listless dog to a ball of crazy energy; wreaking havoc on my world. She would tear and rip everything from books to feather pillows to shoes to shreds. She even chewed a hole in my favorite leather chair within 5 minutes of me being outside! FIVE MINUTES!? The list of rowdy and disruptive behavior was never-ending. Not to mention she also was not potty trained – so yeah, that added to the fun. And smells I might add.
As nutty as my Dingo’s behavior was and is, I’ve heard many similar funny and frustrating stories from clients over the years about their dogs. So why with all of this crazy behavior we endure, would owning a dog be worth it? What is it about dog/human bond? I know personally that Dingo’s antics make me laugh – eventually. But why do we go through so much?
Perhaps it’s the way dogs greet us after a long, hard day with nothing but adoration, excitement and joy? I know firsthand that feeling of belonging after walking dogs all day, coming through the door and receiving an over-the-top, 'YOU’RE BACK! I missed you so much’! hello. (Although often I’m sure she’s really saying, 'Finally you’re home and I get dinner!') But no matter, for that moment in time, I feel like THE most important person in the world.
Maybe the reason we love our dogs so much is the endearing unconditional love they provide us when we’re depressed or angry or confused? Let’s face it, we know we can be ourselves in front of our dog, without any of the daily armor we wear in the world – knowing they still love and accept us without reservation or judgement. To your dog, you are beautiful and perfect just the way you are. It’s as if they ‘see’ through your facade to your true nature.
Dogs are forgiving. I think of how many times throughout my lifetime I’ve been self-absorbed and not as attentive as I should have been. But unlike so many of us, they forgive. One could say it’s because they are simple creatures but I disagree. Unlike humans, I’ve never met a dog that held onto a grudge. They let go. They see us every day with fresh eyes, loving us just the way we are.
Maybe on a more spiritual level dogs are here to help us grow? They definitely show us how to love unconditionally. They help us through hard times by providing us with plenty of laughter, joy or a furry shoulder to cry on. Through all their frustrating and often hilarious behavior we experience, inadvertently I’m sure they’re teaching us patience. Dingo literally ate an entire pizza I ordered while I was paying the pizza delivery person! That gave me a serious lesson in patience.
As a professional dog walker I unfortunately have had to say goodbye to many dogs I’ve fallen in love with over the years. Not to mention the animals I’ve lived with and loved in my life. Since they’re only in our lives for too short of a time, dogs teach us how to move through grief and let go. Yeah, I’m thinking Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows here. The art of gracefully saying goodbye with love.
The interesting thing is, no matter how crazy, frustrating and painful having dogs can be, they are so generous with their unconditional love, laughter and yes, lessons. My little Dingo dog has cost me thousands of dollars and premature graying for sure. But I wouldn’t trade her for the world. To me, she is perfect – absolutely perfect.
Shaley Howard is the Owner and Pack Leader of Scratch N’ Sniff Pet Care. She and her team have been providing daily dog walks and loving, reliable, trustworthy pet care since 2006. Bringing much needed relief and joy to pets - and a sense of peace and comfort to pet owners. For additional information about Scratch N’ Sniff and areas of Portland they service go to www.scratchnsniffpdx.com.