I am 100% certain that dogs are the greatest living creatures to keep as pets! Bold statement, I know. I’m not trying to allude to dogs being better than cats, because we already know that to be true (just kidding, I have a cat and I love cats). But, there is just something different about dogs, something truly unique that cannot be found in a cat or in any other animals. Dogs help to teach us some of the most important lessons in life.
Want to learn how to love others without limits? Look to a dog. Dogs dish out heaps of unconditional love. I heard a comedian say that even Hitler’s dog loved the crap out of him, and obviously Hitler was just about the worst human being to ever exist. Dogs will love you even if you’re awful to your core! They don’t care what your place is in this world. As long as you feed them and scratch their head, they will love you forever. They’ll love you whether you’re in a bad mood or in a great mood. They’ll wake you up each morning with wet and sloppy kisses, regardless of how horrible your morning breath smells. And they’ll get just as excited when you arrive home from work for the 978th time as they did the very first time. Dogs are able to teach us the gift of unconditional love, and as imperfect humans, we need this. We need creatures to love us no matter how we act, so that, in turn, we can mirror that same kind of love with other humans. Love is the most powerful thing we can give and receive. The more loved you are, (hopefully) the more you’ll want to give!
Not only do dogs teach us about unconditional love, but they also educate us on the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” A few years ago, I found a dog on the side of the road that, I will admit, was not the easiest on the eyes. He had big, bulging eyeballs, warts from head to toe, horrible breath, and smelly skin. Being the dog aficionado that I am, I had to rescue him.
Despite the peanut gallery of demands that I leave him alone, I ignored them and brought him home with me. I gave him two baths, fed him some delicious lunch meat, and he cuddled with me that night. He became a part of my every day routine, and I soon discovered how precious his soul was. He was the kindest, gentlest, most loving creature I had ever known, regardless of his rough outer appearance. Often people would comment on his hard-to-ignore looks, but I didn’t care because I knew how special he was in personality. Buddy the Chihuahua taught me how to focus on what matters in life: the inner workings of people, rather than their outer appearances. Buddy’s warts or intrusive stench didn’t affect the massive amounts of love he was wired to give, and the same is true for humans. After having had the pleasure of knowing Buddy, I realized how much I had previously judged people based on their looks without knowing a single thing about their souls. It doesn’t matter if you are the most gorgeous looking person or the ugliest; a great personality is what will get you places in life.
In addition to unconditional love and lessons in judgment, dogs have taught me a great deal of compassion. Raising dogs of my own allowed me to be more compassionate towards others, something I hadn’t been fully capable of understanding prior. This lack of compassion I once had was evident in how awful and careless of a driver I used to be. I would speed in residential areas, I would cut people off, and I scoffed at those signs that said, in all caps, “DRIVE LIKE YOUR KIDS LIVE HERE.” My internal response to those signs was, “I don’t have kids, so I don’t care.” Pretty insensitive, I know. Fast forward to me having multiple (fur) babies of my own and realizing how anxious I get when my kids are off-leash around cars. I found myself becoming especially frustrated with certain drivers who drove above the speed limit and their overall lack of concern for others!!!!!!!!!!! Then, it hit me- I was being hypocritical. I had been driving like those other idiotic drivers, and easily could have hit someone or something during that time. This realization was the catalyst for my current grandma-esque driving style. Having dogs of my own allowed me to engage in a sort of thinking that I couldn’t wrap my head around before. My driving became other-centered instead of me-centered. My dogs taught me that they, or any dog like them, or any child or adult for that matter, could be harmlessly jogging down the road that I am driving on, and that my eyes need to remain peeled for those instances.
I could go on for pages and pages about the multitude of other lessons that raising my own dogs has taught me, like financial responsibility, increased motivation, and a sense of adventure, but I will save you from potential boredom and instead encourage you to adopt your own dog! All three of my dogs (Buddy, Zeppelin, and Leia) have been rescues. Local shelters are very overcrowded right now, and homeless dogs need awesome people like YOU to rescue them. Contra Costa Animal Services, with locations in Antioch, Martinez, and Pinole, are having an ongoing “Summer of Love” event where they are covering adoption fees through July 8th! I promise you that adopting a dog will be one of the greatest decisions of your life. I put the link to CCAS’s Facebook page below, if you’re interested 🙂