A Good Question

A beloved friend of mine, someone on my short list of ‘favorite people in every category I can think of’, asked me today whether I thought that she’d get out of the house more, if she got a dog.  This was a funny question for me, hard to answer.

For one thing, she gets out of the house plenty.  She’s very active, mentally and physically, and involved in all kinds of goal-oriented things, including training for triathlons.  She’s got advanced degrees in two widely different yet equally challenging disciplines.  She’s always doing something to help her kids with their educations, and even helps other people’s kids, and helps her mother a great deal, too.  Really, the list of things that get her ‘out of the house’ is too long to write about.

And I’ve been after her for years to get a dog, so why ask now?  She knows the answer I’ll give.  Her whole family loves their cats, and all the family members are affectionate by nature, and responsible, too.  The kids definitely want a dog; dad thinks he’s opposed but will end up being the worst dog fanatic in the house, I’m guessing; and my friend’s doubts are only the kind that a woman pregnant with her first child has–will I be good enough?  What if I screw this up?  And then the baby is born, and years later, you remind the woman how fearful she was, and she really can’t remember, because now she’s involved in it for real, not as a concept, and life’s in the details.

So my friend was really asking something else, I think, although if she had been asking, will having a dog get one out of the house more?, the answer would be a clear, ‘yes’.  I used to have that SAD thing, seasonal affective disorder, and let me tell you, dogs will help that, or any other kind of depressive condition, in a big way–at least, that’s how it worked for me.  I don’t have even a trace of it anymore.  Getting outdoors every day, for fun, makes all the difference in how you view the cold.

But, if you follow along with that idea and apply it a little more widely, you come to something much more important about having a dog. 

Living with a dog will help you appreciate everything much more.

A dog is an animal perfectly poised to be happy, to adapt to changing circumstances, to make the best of things.  Given the slightest reason to be so, a dog will be content.  A dog could have written the saying, ‘If life gives you lemons, make lemonade’.  

Clearly a dog did write the saying, ‘Take time to smell the roadkill’; the first human to read it thought it must be a misprint and changed it to ‘roses’.  Dogs are just really, really good at appreciating, and, if you’d like to teach yourself to go through life with more gratitude, you can hire no better teacher than a dog.  And there are many wise humans who feel that the secret to living a happy life, and a good life, is to get yourself to a point where you are operating from a base of gratitude.

Once you’ve learned to love a dog, deeply, with the goal of understanding how it’s similar to you and how it’s different and respecting both those things, you will look at everything around you with different eyes.  And you will start to feel that you could do no better than to try to be as much like your dog as you can possibly manage.

And that, to me, is why my friend should get a dog.  When you know and really understand and love a dog, the beautiful and important things in life rise to the surface and take their rightful place on some golden shelf in your soul, and all the hundreds of irksome (or worse) details just fall by the wayside, rolling off your back like water off a Newfoundland.

Does that answer your question?

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2 Responses to A Good Question

  1. Anja says:

    Maybe the real question here is “Is your life open for a dog?”
    She does sound really busy and I think you should ask her to elaborate on “getting out more”.
    As a person that was wrecking her brain when she saw Grace’s picture on the euthanasia list, about who I know and what my back-up plan could be if things didn’t work out….I have to wonder “How could anyone NOT open their home to one of these dogs???” I could give you a long list why it would be irresponsible of me, if I took a rescue right now ( I think I did give you a few recently ; ) …..) , but if I had room, I’d fill it and that’s not because I have a void to fill but because I can’t stand the fact that animals are killed every day, because they have nowhere to go!
    Now, for anyone that does not have experience with adopting from shelters and problems that can arise with grown dogs…..or puppies, they SHOULD hesitate and do their homework, but this is one of YOUR friends!!! They could not have a better support-system!!
    Maybe the question shouldn’t be what a dog can bring into her families life, but what can she contribute to a dogs life?
    You and I and many others think that way, that’s why living with them is so rewarding for us. Even if they throw up on our brand-new down comforter, we think: What did you eat? Let me look at your vomit….are you okay??? I know you’re laughing right now, because you’ve been there! With all of your animals, there must have been vomit on your comforter, LOL!!
    So, I guess I would wrap this comment up by saying…. your friend needs to evaluate her motives. Why does she want a dog and what can she offer to him/her?

    • cellopets says:

      Well, as it turns out, I have to write a whole ‘nother blog entry about this friend and this subject, so your comment is very pertinent, and I thank you for it. The only part of it that won’t pertain is the down comforter with vomit on it :), so I’ll answer that right here. In college, when I tried my first down comforter, I knew I’d found my blanket for life. For the first time, I was warm enough at night. For many years, and with many dogs, I had at least one on my bed. But then there was Brigadoon, whom you’ll read more about, Cairn Terrier Brigadoon who grew nice and old with me and who sometimes wet the bed. And then he got cancer, too, and sometimes there was blood…I’ll try to write about all of that someday, write about the emotions of it, I mean, and the love. But one day, during my time with Brigadoon and the other members of the Six Pack, I realized that down comforters no longer fit into my lifestyle. So now they’re on my guest beds, and I sleep with blankets and comforters chosen for their washability. I was surprised–it was an easy choice to make.

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