There’s just something about dogs. I’m a dog person. It’s not that I don’t like cats. Cats are great pets. But give me a choice between a cat and a dog, and tell me I can have one and only one, and I will pick the dog. Chances are the dog would pick me, too.
And that’s why I love dogs. It’s a cliché, I know, but I love dogs especially because they love me back. I mean, each dog has his or her own temperament – and each breed as well. But dogs are pack animals. Dogs are, as a whole, a very social species. And that’s the key to what makes dogs so great.
Having a pet is a big responsibility. You have to feed them. You have to make sure they get plenty of exercise. You have to provide them shelter. You’ve got to keep them groomed, and provide for their health. But dogs have a need beyond all of these. Dogs need to be loved and to love. They need social interaction with their “pack” – and the pack of the dog is their human family.
Last week, I was struck by this as my dog, Shasta, begged to cuddle with me periodically. I realized that she hadn’t been getting as much attention, perhaps, as she was used to before B.T. came along. And she was feeling lonesome. She just wanted to cuddle, to sit with me and for me to pet her. And something in her big brown eyes just melted me.
Other times, she brings over one of her favorite toys – her “pink rope” or her “dead squirrel” (a stuffless stuffed animal in the shape of a squirrel pelt, no actual squirrels involved) or one of her others – and lay it in your lap knowing for all the world that what you really want to do is play a game of tug or fetch with her.
What struck me about all this, and what I wanted to write about, is just how much of a real need this is for dogs. It’s as important for their health and well-being to be played with and loved as food and exercise and regular visits to the vet. And they’ll gladly give the same, in kind. It’s just so fundamental to their nature.
One of my favorite bumper stickers that I’ve been seeing on the road occasionally, recently, reads “DOG IS LOVE”. The transposition from the original phrase isn’t just hilarious (regardless of whether you believe the original phrase; I just happen to) – it’s also true. And that’s why I just can’t help but love them back. Especially Shasta, the big cute lovable ball of fur that she is (or, as we sometimes call her, “Silly Bear”).