Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hope Springs

I've owned a lot of dogs over the years. Short dogs, tall dogs, little dogs, big dogs, boy dogs, girl dogs. It doesn’t really matter. With all of them I've noticed something that may or may not have profound relevance. Hope springs eternal in the heart of a dog.

No matter their training or how often you might give them people food, if ever, they are always hopeful that today will be their lucky day. Today, you'll give in to the begging and sorrowful looks and drop a tasty tidbit on the floor. But here's the amazing part, even if you don't share that tasty something you're eating, they're okay. Oh, they may sulk for a moment or two but a tummy rub or scratch behind the ear and they're as grateful as if you'd given them that snack. Eternally hopeful and eternally grateful all in one package.

It takes a lot to kill this hope in a dog. It can be done, just like it can in a person, and in much the same way. But for the most part, dogs are loving, giving simple creatures that believe in our essential goodness in a way that's hard to describe. My dog loves me unconditionally- even after I've nearly fallen down laughing at something stupid he did or chastised him for chewing up something he shouldn't. He doesn't scold me for forgetting to pay a bill or hold a grudge when I tell someone about his latest encounter with the evil plastic bag. He's always hopeful that I'll give him something tasty to eat or take him on a car ride. When he gets to go for a ride, he's thrilled, but if I leave him at home, he's just as thrilled to see me when I return. Eternally hopeful and eternally grateful.

Some people believe that dogs can't communicate just because they can't verbalize, and that somehow makes them lesser beings without a soul. How can anything that loves unconditionally and sees the hope in every encounter be a lesser being? I'd argue the reverse. I think that dogs are closer to God than we are. They certainly seem to embody the love thy neighbor thing a lot better than us. In fact, I think that if we're really good and very, very lucky, we get to come back as a dog. I, for one, would love to be able to see the good in everyone, to be hopeful that every encounter will work out for the best and be grateful, truly grateful, for everything I have. Remember... eternally hopeful and eternally grateful.

While there are a few behaviors my dog displays that I'd just as soon forget about, for the most part I think I could learn a good bit from him. I've written about them before, but they bear repeating: Be exuberantly happy to see all my friends and family, even if I just saw them five minutes ago. Greet everyone with a smile. Be content to just "be" with someone. Play hard. Eat only when I'm hungry unless it’s a tasty treat. Those are good any time. Try to behave and be genuinely sorry when I misbehave. Love unconditionally. Be eternally hopeful and eternally grateful.

So this is to Chipper, Suzie, Jodie, Dingo, Loche, Scooter, Rowan and Myrddin. Thank you for sharing yourselves and being a part of my family.


Aliceson said...

Thanks for the linky love, I saw that you added my blog to your blogroll.

As for the dogs, I couldn't agree more. I have 2 dogs, a boxer and a saint bernard (so cute) and I believe that they are more in tune with the universe than any human I know. They sense changes in the weather, are always true to themselves, forgive easily and ask (in their silly dog slobber way) for forgiveness. Wouldn't it be great if all humans had the ability to ask for forgiveness?

I'm a stay at home mom, so many times I'm home alone but feel much safer with 2 big dogs around. Life wouldn't be the same without them.

skyewriter said...

You should read Dean Koontz's _Watchers_. It's for any dog lover I know (cried, I cried reading a horror story).
Also, _The Hidden Life of Dogs_ is pretty great, too.

When we get a house with a yard, we are gettin' a pooch. Can't wait to have one.

Great post, truebluetexan.

True Blue Texan said...

I have read The Watchers. Koontz often includes dogs in his stories.

The other one I haven't read. I'll add it to my Amazon list.

You might like "Animals in Translation". Very cool book.