Discovering Who We Are, Faith, Relationships

For the Love of a Dog

Several years ago after our dogs passed, husband and I thought that we were done with pets.  We thought that “at last, no more furry encumberments”.

But I was wrong.

My house felt empty.  There was a hole.  I was ashamed of how much I needed a dog.  Ashamed that my family, my friends, my job, my hobbies, my faith couldn’t fill that dog shaped spot.  Ashamed that I was so needy.  I’m not the only one who feels that way.  There’s a reason that those awful ASPCA TV solicitations are mostly filled with abused dogs instead of cats or bunnies.  Dogs and man have a link. There has been an ancient bond between the two.  There is a dog-shaped hole in most of us and a man-shaped hole in them as well.

Why?  Why do we or I need their companionship so much?

Believe it or not, this is a big deal question that anthropologists, sociologists and psychiatrists have been studying. Each field of study has come up with a different theory.

  • The sociologists say that the relationship was formed as a means of social support.  Dogs helped us hunt and protect our families, while we kept dogs warm and fed.  We are linked historically.  We’ve evolved together.
  • Then the anthropologists believe in the biophilia hypothesis which says that dogs fulfil man’s need to connect with the wild and the nature that our evolution has us growing away from.
  • Psychiatry believes that our egos need the bottomless adoration and love that only canines provide.  

They are all wrong.

While walking with my new pup (of course, we got another one) it hit me.

The silence and fragrance of late spring was all around us.  We were both delighted in the evening and each other.  As Buddie looked up at me smiling, which he does a lot, it just hit me.

I don’t need to be adored as much as I need to be able  be able to actively adore.

That sounds weird, I know.  I have family whom I love but all relationships are complicated.  Kids grow up and away. Parental relationships with grown children may be the stuff of Shakespearian drama; wicked step-mothers, addled old fathers, tyrannical parents, murderous uncles, –betrayals, loss, arguments. As well as fairy tale dreams: pride, rainbows, new beginnings, weddings, babies, fairy godmothers, closure.  Deep love- at its best is complicated.  I hate to admit it but my care for those I love is too often muddled by expectations and strings.  I wish it wasn’t, but…

 With a dog, I get to love absolutely without human expectation.  Just love.

To cuddle and not be asked to stop because they grow up.  With a dog; I learn how to feed, train, teach, exercise- I work hard for their advantage without the deep secret wish for gratitude or control.  A dog is sentient being to be watched over and cherished.  A companion to share good and bad days, a companion to just be with.

It’s as if, dogs are here to teach me how to love fully, completely without expectation.  If I can love my family and friends with the same guileless wonder that I love my dogs, my family’s world will be a better place.

Then there is the God thing. While walking with Buddie, both of us quiet in the late spring world, vibrant, it occurred to me that my absolute love for my dog was a fraction of how God must feel about me.

God had given us a companion to teach us how to love and to show us how much we are loved.

Dogs with their cold noses and warm hearts are miracles.

As Always,

Beth

9 Comments

  1. A dog is one who will never turn their back on you, will always be glad to see you, and will always love you. Maybe that’s why they’re called man’s best friend. Loved this post! Thank you Beth for sharing this post at the #WednesdayAIM #LinkUp #BlogParty. I shared it on social media.

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  2. So so so much this. And sometimes I think my dog problem 🙂 is exacerbated because I also work from home. The golden doodle is my sidekick. The other morning I had had more than enough of the husband and the child and felt like I wanted to go away. Right away 🙂 I was most definitely taking that canine with me 🙂

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  3. We lost our last dog 18 months ago to old age and have chosen not to replace him because of all those things you just mentioned Beth. That unconditional love, the adoration and the need for companionship – I think we’re not ready to go down that path again yet, so it’s cats for us for now – but maybe, just maybe, there’ll be another dog with big brown eyes in the future.

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  4. I totally understand what you’re saying, here. I would never want to go for a long time without a dog. I have had several exceptional and long-living dogs in my life – each one as special and endearing as the previous one. Our sweet Shih Tzu (Isabel) is 13-1/2 now. We will surely have to face her passing within the next couple of years. My husband and I will doubtless be heartbroken when the time comes. And, I’m sure we will get another dog after a period of mourning. Being “mommy” to a dog just makes life so much better!

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  5. Growing up there was always a dog (or 4) living inside the family house; when the last of them passed, my folks figured they wouldn’t get another. Driving up to that house to hear nothing but silence was actually depressing to me. It lasted about 4 years, then they broke down and got a couple of poms. Now that my Dad is having a harder time getting around & doesn’t go out too much, the successors to the poms have kept him from being lonely.

    We experienced the same thing; when our little house dog died in 2011 we thought, since we had Saint the Good Shepherd who takes care of the farm, we didn’t need another house dog. Soon, the Saint became a house dog. After another couple of years I found I really longed for a small dog companion again, & Manic MinPin entered the scene. She’s a crazy barker, has somehow poisoned herself at least three times (eating something, God know what, maybe something dead even), and insists on sleeping in our bed. She is truly a horrible little dog, and we love her dearly.
    I came to visit from the AIM link party; I hope you’ll find time one day to stop by the 4Shoes & let me know you’ve stopped by. 🙂

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    1. Beth Author

      That dog shaped hole can’t be denied… even when they work the barn or are horrible little dogs, we just love them.
      Thank you so much for stopping by.
      Beth

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