If you Google search “dog books” today, you’ll come up with 718,000 hits. Variations on key words jack that number up into the millions. There has always been a strong connection between dogs and humans, and the internet is now visited by most Americans, so the numbers are no surprise. More and more books are covering all things canine, TV shows like “Dog Whisperer” and movies like “Marley” are smash hits and the human fascination with the lovable pooch seems to be intensifying. I share that fascination with most of America and, close friends and family excluded, I truly believe that I like dogs more than people!
Now, before you start thinking I’m “out there” on this issue, let me just provide some clarification. I am not some kind of puppy pundit. I do have a life and I’m not crazy. I don’t see or treat dogs as “little people” and I will never use one as a fashion accessory (sorry Paris, it’s obnoxious!). I know what I know about dogs not through books* but through a lifetime of experience, and I have a few opinions on why my interactions have been as positive as they have.
First, some history. As an only child, dogs were the closest things to siblings that I had from birth until my early 30’s. I had two great pals, Scamper, who was a puppy when I was an infant, and Brandy, who immediately replaced Scamper. Each was a “mutt” who lived to be about 16 or 17. Both were loyal, friendly, obedient and playful. I still miss them and it’s been years since the latter died.
Due to my schedule, I’ve never owned a dog other than these family pets, but I will always be grateful to my parents for bringing them into my life. There were, however, several other dogs who had an impact on my “dogs vs. people” outlook . Here’s one quick story. I was doing real estate and sold a house to a couple who had an adorable yellow lab puppy. The transaction was difficult and the listing broker was a dope, but “Lukas” was always there to lift my spirits. I couldn’t stay angry or frustrated with him in the room. After the closing, I told the couple that if they ever needed a sitter, I would be happy to help out. Today, thirteen years later, I remain the only person who has ever watched Lukas for the family. Either I really love dogs or I absolutely define the term “full service broker”! (Believe me, it’s the former.)
Some of my friends’ and neighbors’ dogs also left an impression. In New Jersey, there was Duster I and II, Porsche, Viper, Shauna, Kujo, Buck and Wendy. Here in Mass, there was Niki, Honey (a nasty, snippy “rodent dog” who I “Dr. Philled” back to normal in about 10 minutes), Sadie, Captain, Pooh, LuLu, Whitey (a black lab, go figure), Simba and more. Before leash laws, if my neighbors couldn’t find their dogs, they would call me first before panicking. More often than not, I had a visitor!
So what is it that has made 99.9% of my experiences with dogs so great over the last four (plus) decades? And why is it that, even though I generally enjoy human interaction, this likability index drops dramatically when applied to people? If you love dogs, you probably already know the answers. Here’s my “doggy dozen”:
- Dogs “love” unconditionally.
- They’re always happy to see you.
- They sense that you like them and like you back right away, so making “friends” with a dog is almost never a long ordeal.
- They don’t carry grudges.
- They are always “there” for you when you’re having a bad day.
- If you know how to behave as an owner, they are easily trainable and maintain great dispositions forever.
- They are content to just hang out with you for hours at a time without bugging you about anything other than food, water and nature calls.
- They don’t over-analyze anything.
- They don’t nag you or whine incessantly about a bad day at the office.
- They make you smile when you normally wouldn’t.
- They are consistent.
- They watch your house, and your back.
As I mentioned, there are thousands of publications, videos, movies and personal anecdotes about dogs–so clearly this is not a comprehensive list. I’m sure you could add many more reasons to celebrate their existence. Feel free to post your own “doggy dozen” in my comments section!
* “Soul of a Dog” by Jon Katz is a great book and bestseller. I highly recommend it.