From left to right: Ripley, my parents’ dog Harry, and Midnyte
It’s a gorgeous Texas day, warm and sunny. (I’m ignoring the humidity on purpose, hoping that if I pretend it doesn’t exist, I’ll stop sweating.) The breeze is great though, very refreshing. It’s a pleasant change form the hot winds in Arizona!
I decided to come outside and write, partly because it’s one of my favorite things to do, and partly so I could play with the dogs. We play for a few minutes, until my old dog is ready to pass out from panting so hard. She’d play until she drops, but I’d rather give her breaks and play again. It works out for both of us; I get up from my laptop, stretch, and take frequent breaks. She gets to play and hang out for a few hours.
I was brainstorming blogs and this topic came to mind because my dogs really are my best friends. Even my husband, who was not a dog person when I met him, has come over to the dog side. Why do we love dogs so much, and why are they such great friends? I think I have a few of the answers…
1. Be happy to see one another, no matter how much time has passed, and show it! People appreciate when you’re happy to see them. It makes them feel like they’re the only one that matters. When I get home and my dogs greet me, it automatically lifts my spirits. I look forward to going home because I know that I’m going to get a dose of joy.
2. Live in the moment. It doesn’t matter if your best friend said something mean to you 5 minutes ago. Let it go. Friends don’t keep score, and if you can forgive easily, you will feel lighter. It’s more fun to be happy and pay attention to what’s going on right now. Now is the best place to be.
3. Give little treats. It could be a tiny morsel (like a compliment) or a huge bone (like a gift). Those treats say “I’m thinking of you.” Treats show others that we care. No, they’re not necessary, but who doesn’t like getting treats?
4. Play together. Dogs make us laugh when we throw balls for them or watch them splash in the water. They’re not afraid to be silly. Be silly with your friends and laugh together.
5. Don’t focus on the superficial. My dogs don’t care how much I weigh, how I’m dressed*, how clean the house is, what job I work, etc. What they care about is who I am to them. I can be myself and will never judge me.
*The one exception to this is that Ripley gets really excited when I put on yoga pants, as that’s usually what I wear to hike. She cries and jumps up on me.
6. Just be there. When I’m having a bad day and talk about it, my dogs will never interrupt me, never jump in to offer solutions, will never tell me what I should have done. They just listen without judgement, and give me a lick on the cheek or the hand as if to say, “I’m here for you, and I love you.” There’s nothing more comfortable than reaching down and feeling a furry body at my side.
“Hi, I’m here!”
7. Whatever you want, chase with abandon. Whether it’s a ball or a pesky squirrel, go after it. It doesn’t matter if you catch it; the fun is in the chase. Good friends will cheer one another on through that chase and never say, “You can’t do it.” In fact, they’re probably running by your side with you!
8. It’s never too late to build a lifelong friendship. No matter how old they are, if a dog loves you, they love you. Even if they’ve been abandoned many times before you found them, they will love you if you let them. They don’t care if you’re old or young; as long as you’re willing to share your space with them, they will be glad to be with you.
9. When you’re together, give the relationship your attention. I get frustrated with people when they check their phones or watch the restaurant TVs when we’re together. My dogs do their own thing when I’m busy. They go off and think doggy thoughts, watch squirrels or birds, chew up toys, squeak toys, play fetch alone, or bark at other dogs. But when we’re playing together, they are completely focused on me, and I try to stay focused on them. Time together is more fun when we’re both engaged.
“Why aren’t you paying attention to me?”
10. When someone you love hurts, don’t take “no” for an answer. Many times, when I’ve had a bad day, Ripley (65 pounds) jumps in my lap and starts kissing me, whether I want her to or not. She pokes at me with her wet nose and demands to be petted. Midnyte lays at my feet or puts her head in my lap. Even if I think I want to be left alone, they won’t. And I can’t resist them. Maybe whatever happened didn’t get better, but I feel a little better, and that’s what’s important.
Is your dog your best friend? What have you learned from your dog?