Dogs in our lives

small_heroic_bingleyThere are times that I try to look objectively at why I have dogs in my life. Though past results are no guarantee of future performance, experience indicates that they are not an economic investment sure to pay off after years of careful training and nurturing. Certainly my vet bills for three dogs last year confirms the lack of “return on initial investment”, though the raw numbers do indicate my own robust participation in stimulating the economy. Clearly, heavily investing in dog mania does nothing to establish me as a sound financial planner.

They do provide entertainment. They make me laugh every day, but then again so does “The Big Bang Theory”, and all that requires of me is sitting in my comfortable leather chair with a mug of tea for a half hour  or so each evening. Moreover, “The Big Bang Theory” does not jump on my lap, spill my tea, and thereby cause me to further stimulate the economy by needing the services of a carpet/furniture cleaner, and a dry cleaner.IMG_1456

They keep me active. True, but so does the the treadmill in the basement, and that does not have nearly the upkeep cost of one retriever, much less two, plus a Bernese Mountain Dog. In fact, I probably demand more of the treadmill than it does of me. I owe you buddy. Maybe you’ll get some routine maintenance for Christmas this year, just for being my steady eddie.

My dogs are mentally stimulating, thus preventing early onset dementia. They baffle me, they keep me guessing as to what the heck is going on in those canine skulls, and they challenge me to be creative. I am constantly trying new bowls, toys, training techniques, treats, etc., on them to see what does and does not work for the average canine. It is an educational experience (though admittedly an expensive learning opportunity, thus allowing me to further stimulate the sluggish economy) which keeps me from doing other things that might actually pay for themselves as well as provide mental stimulation.

But, let me tell you one story. On Thanksgiving I spent most of the day cooking and serving food. It was a busy, full day and I did not get a chance to sit down until about 6 pm. The dogs had been challenged all day by tantalizing smells and the squeals of 75C_dog_thanksgiving-01small people. When I sat down on the couch, Bingley came over, jumped up on the couch, curled up into a tight ball, rested his head on my lap, and sighed deeply. As I sunk my hands into his soft fur and massaged his ears, I knew in the very depths of my soul that the constant coating of dog hair on all surfaces, tripping over a thousand tennis balls, bandaging wounds, cleaning ears, and scooping mountains of poo, are extraordinarily small inconveniences when weighed against the companionship of a beloved dog.  Truly we are meant to love creation as God loves us, and are called to be stewards of those who have no other voice. If we are willing to answer that call, then the sigh of a contented soul is a gift freely given. Dogs ask for a tiny part of our hearts, give us all of theirs, and challenge us to rise to the better angels of our human nature. That alone is reason enough to welcome them to our hearths, if not our couches.

Dog days of summer



Philosophy of training or "Why be positive?"2 comments

  1. Mary Elliott says:

    Thanks! You definitely have spoken to me today. Especially after getting up @ 3:30am with Shamrock so he could go out and then come in to sit on my lap all 90 pounds of love. All 4 of them have personalities to make you laugh (or cry). Have a GREAT day! :)ME

    • Julie Smith says:

      Thank you Mary! I am glad you enjoyed it. I did think about you and your four while I was writing this, as Bingley’s antics are very similar to certain other retrievers I know!

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