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One of the Greatest Things about Having a Dog is Not the Dog

Our Sweet Daisy

Our Sweet Daisy

This morning, like many mornings, I was out early walking the dog. It was such a beautiful morning, with the frost coating every branch, spider web, and blade of grass- as if Mother Nature just felt like dressing up, even though an hour later it would all be gone. The sky was high and blue with the moon shining and a few delicate clouds providing a canvas for the sunlight coming over the horizon. I had to stop and just stare for a minute- feeling so grateful that ahead of what will be a busy and long day, I had a chance to experience this moment.

What does this have to do with the dog? Well, without Daisy to walk- I wouldn’t be out there. I wouldn’t be taking my time, looking around, slowing down- even if it’s just for 15 minutes. I have similar experiences all the time- out late, taking Daisy for her constitutional on a crisp, clear night, marveling at the twinkling show happening above me. If it wasn’t for walking the dog, I know that after coming home late from work, putting the kids to bed, and scarfing down some food- I’m not going to say, “I think I’ll just step outside and feel my place in the universe for a minute.” Now- we all SHOULD do that anyway, but we don’t.  It’s hard, given all the pressures of life, to take that time but having a dog helps you to do that very thing.

Which is why one of the greatest things about owning a dog is not the dog. Even the responsibility of walking and caring and feeding is a gift. Recently, two good friends had their faithful and wonderful dogs pass away, and I have a third friend who’s beloved companion has been been diagnosed with serious disease. I have been thinking about the hole left, not just in their hearts, but in their lives. So let’s not get started on the fact that our sweet Daisy is nearing nine years old- which is not young for a German Shepherd.

So much has been written and said about what a dog does for you- the love, companionship, and joy of their presence in your life- but it’s more than that. At least for me, one of the greatest joys of having a dog is how how she helps me remain connected to the physical, tangible world around me- in all it’s magnificence (even on dreary, grey days).

Sharing your home and life with a dog may not be the right choice for everyone, but for those who can and do- we are a fortunate, fortunate group.

And for those who can’t have a dog, I recommend pretending sometimes that you do. Get out and take that furry beast for a walk- you’ll come home healthier and happier!

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