Life with a dog, simply, is better. Sure, the minute you decide to get that loyal companion into your life you’re signing up for heartache. It always ends up with you in a puddle of tears and a hole in your heart that you can drive a train through. In my life I’ve had 10 dogs come through my wheelhouse, nine times we’ve taken them to their end, nine times a small piece of me has died with them. I don’t mean for this to sound like it’s doom and gloom, it’s not, but I would be remise not admitting that this piece is a part of it. In times like these I always lean on refrigerator logic to help me get past it, “ Dogs are not our whole life, but make our life whole.” Life is better with a dog.
Eleven months ago, we brought Finnegan into our orbit all the way from Houston, Texas. It had only been two months after the last crazy bully breed (Dutch) was abruptly taken from us. Every time one passes, we here in my household swear off these beasts of loyalty. “Never again,” we profess, “We don’t have the band width to do it again, we can’t take the heartache.” All of that may be true, but as a friend said to me shortly after the passing of Dutch, “You’ll never replace him, you’ll just find another that will love you just as hard.” It’s true, a dog is the only thing on earth that will love you more than it loves itself. In all fairness, I suppose other animals can do that, too. I’ve only had one cat in my life; it was when I was a kid, and it was very loyal to my sister. So, I can only speak from a canine perspective.
The funny thing about dogs, there are literally hundreds of different breeds of dogs, and all seem to embody that loyalty and love uniformly. Something that cannot be said for their human counterpart, which is why I’m a dog person. All a dog looks for is the love and approval from its human, even if that human mistreats it. Time and time again, we see that a dog that has had a terrible start to its life and gets rescued will almost always become the most faithful companion. Again, something that cannot be said for its human counterpart. Books, movies, songs, poems and even the occasional weekly column have been dedicated to the love of a dog. Again, I’ll remind you that I truly speak only for the canine committed, and it’s not that I don’t believe that it’s possible for another animal.
But why am I writing this column today? That’s a solid question and one that is deserving of an answer. My social media feed as of late has been filled with lost companions. It breaks my heart for every single person they’ve left behind. The stories that are told with photographic highlights from their history with humans always has me biting back tears. I’ve been there nine times and understand the pain that comes with it. For those folks, they just have social media to show their grief. So, I decided to dedicate my words to those that have loved and lost their fur-covered housemates. Whether it was yesterday or 10 years ago, I wanted you to know that I have suffered alongside you and I understand your pain. But I want you to also understand that you gave that dog a good life and if you’re up for it, do it again. If you’re not, that’s okay too.
After watching our Maxie slowly go, we swore we’d never do it again. Then with our next rescue, Dutch, his passing was so abrupt we swore we’d never do it again. But now with Finnegan, I can’t imagine that life could be any better. He, as all his brothers and sisters have done, healed our hearts. That’s just what they do. They remind us, if we’re listening, that we can be better. If you think about it, a dog’s only fault is that its life is too short.