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December 27, 2013

Dogs & Humans.

I’ve been interestingly accused of loving dogs over humans and I have to be honest: the unconditional love that a dog brings to my heart is worth its weight in gold.

I guess it’s no surprise that I’m an avid animal lover of the best kind, so much so that when I see multiple pictures, posts, videos and general stories related to creatures, I get a bit weepy and content all the same.

Stories are written every hour about the truth and integrity ignited in a dogs’ love.

If I could do an x-ray of a dogs’ heart, it might resemble the heart of the Grinch when it exploded and pumped to larger proportions as it heard the songs of Who-ville. It is that big.

My response to fresh born puppies is one of a settling of my insides, comparable to a relaxing meditation. Their small wormy movements bring me such joy—the smallness of their paws, their ears, their faces, their smells and their pink little tongues—pure love.

Active middle-aged dogs are the sturdy companions. They have settled into a life with their guardian, knowing every nuance of the family life they share, and purportedly have your back. I watched “Marley and Me” again last night, crying like a slobbering child on the couch. The true-to-life bond between that dog and its family over the course of its malfunctioned life brought more tears this time around.

Why? I’m at that phase in my life where I’ve been dog-less for too long.

For years I have been able to appease my dog satisfaction with the incredible opportunity of walking and staying with some of the coolest four-legged fuzzy beings in the world. We develop a mutual bond, if only for a short while.

But it is there. My heart gets bigger like the Grinch.

The dog brings it out of me. I get more choked up with dog stories than ever. I have had so many dogs in my lifetime and every single one has touched my heart in ways that I never could explain. Large dogs, small dogs, crazy dogs, rescued dogs and store-bought dogs; they all have been in and out of my life with memories beyond my scope of years. When the humans have left my story, the dog has always remained central to the plot. The dog has lingered more in my dreams than a well-worn human.

A dog depends on a human for many of its’ basic needs. A human, on the other hand, is able to take care of his or her own everything without consulting the furry friend. It all boils down to responsibility.

If a dog living with a human companion could rise every morning, scoop its food out of the bag, add in the doses of whatever oils and vitamins that need to be mixed, and adorn itself with the collar and leash, we might not have the ritual of dog/guardian companionship.

The reverse is not true.

A human has the ability to do everything for him or herself without considering how it affects the dog. This is where my heart gets split in favoritisms. I love people who love their dogs. I love the dogs who love their people. What I don’t want to see or hear are the people who are unkind to their dogs or treat them as second-class citizens.

In many instances, if it weren’t for the dog, the human would not be the person they have turned out to be in their life. Some dogs even start to resemble their human guardians in posture, behaviors and bodily features. This is the upside to the dog and human world.

The downside is a human can bring their worst idiosyncrasies into the dogs’ life and create an animal that eventually winds up at the pound. It makes me sad.

I want to believe that every dog rescued has that wonderful life.

I want to hear only those stories that make my heart sing with a dog and human bonded forever. Last year, the photo that captivated the world was “John and Schoep” peacefully floating in the lake. No words were necessary to conjure up the amount of warmth, joy and tears with that photo and accompanying story. To this day, with the passing of the 20-year old Schoep, John continues to stay in the hearts of the world, as he did from the moment that photo appeared in our lives.

It moved us. It still moves me beyond belief similar to the movie “Marley and Me”.

Perhaps it is with memories of dogs gone by that I continue to crouch down and fondle every dog that passes me on runs or walks. I am a sensitive soul. I talk “dog” to them. I spend more time caressing the dog and asking its name than I do conversing with the human.

Often I don’t even remember the name of the human on the end of the leash, but I remember everything about the dog. Growing up with every type of dog imaginable left an impression on me, one that still tends to jump into my heart and cause a huge sigh of emotion. I’m no activist, but I want the world to spin with all the dogs spending their lives in the arms of worthy humans.

As we leave one year and enter into another, it is with an extended blossoming heart I will give a dog a life we can share. Dogs and humans need each other.

I’ve never been more ready to welcome 2014 with the slobber and barks and cuddles that a dog brings. I believe the dog will rescue me. It seems fitting. We will blaze trails and journeys into the unknown.

Between the dog, my man and me, a new life awaits.

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Daniel Mutryn/Pixoto, Connie Fore/Pixoto

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