Comforting is in their DNA

January 2013

Dogs know best. At least I believe they do. Maybe not every single one of them, but most of them it seems anyway, with perhaps the exception of the super tiny breeds. They know when things aren’t right, when we’re not right. They know when we’re happy, sad, angry, busy, content and even sick. Are they psychic? You might think they are. I say it’s something inert. If research proves accurate, a dogs’ brain is actually the intelligence equivalent of a human two-year-old. And two year olds, like dogs, are quite good at observing. They pick up on impulses, frustrated behavior, fatigue and so much more.

Buddy is a pro at detecting everything it is I’m feeling at the time. If only my eyes could photograph his, watching me while riding shotgun on a day I’m running late. It’s no secret that a dog’s nose is stronger than ours. I believe Buddy can smell stress a mile away. And, I believe he can sniff out sickness from even farther.

Buddy, along with his girlfriend LuLu just recently exercised their canine super powers during my recent bout with the flu. Coupled with pneumonia, I was in a sad state before, during and after Christmas. Actually, I don’t even remember Christmas. Alone in my home I layed with a high fever, chills and the rest of the muck. Anyone who’s experienced a high fever will attest to the psychotic hallucinations that are common. And when you know you’re alone, unable to move, speak or even find the phone, it can be frightening. Flat on my back, my right hand rested on LuLu reminding me I wasn’t going to die completely alone. My left arm dangled over the bedside as I danced with purple elephants jumping over the moon. Once every hour it seemed, Buddy would push his head up under my hand commanding my attention to let him know I was still alive. Every few hours or so, I would struggle to get up and shuffle my feet to the bathroom. Buddy would join me at my snails pace to and from, and even stand at my side during.

It’s true. Dogs are no dummies. Well most anyway. Is it just a coincidence that your dog will come and lie in your lap when you’re crying? Hardly. Or cower and whimper when you’re annoyed? Nope. They may not know our complicated human reasons why, but they know when we’re not right. The best part about dogs is that they don’t try and fix our troubles; they simply show us their presence.

Dogs demonstrate a meaning in our lives that simply cannot be fulfilled by our human counterparts. If you’re like me, you might even go as far to say humans can’t even come close. So I find it no surprise what’s going on right now at Bringham Young University in Utah. A few students have partnered up with the local dog pound, acting as a liaison between the community, the humane society and the students themselves. For a modest donation, students can now actually “rent” a dog for a few hours. Students get the quality cuddle time; the dogs get mental stimulation and exercise. A win-win for the people of the BYU community.

Please allow me to say it again – dogs demonstrate a meaning in our lives that simply cannot be fulfilled by our human counterparts. Their sense of understanding and concern can reach light-years beyond what humans are capable of. Buddy has proved this to me for over fifteen years now. Never once has he faltered. It has nothing to do with intelligence and certainly nothing to do with being “brilliant”. It has everything to do with just simply being a dog.

So remember this: dogs are good for more than just wrestling around and playing catch.

Just recently a team of ten golden retrievers traveled from Chicago to Newtown Connecticut. Their mission, along with their handler Tim Hetzner, was to bring some comfort to the grief-stricken community. All along while the young and old talked, prayed and grieved, those dogs layed at their sides, judging no one and knowing only love without condition. Anyone who tells you dogs are limited in their role of healing almost anything is blind of maybe more than what it means to be loved by a dog.

Buddy, like most dogs, can sense almost anything. And he hardly needs his hearing to do so. It’s just what dogs do. It’s in their souls. It’s who and what they are. I know it, and so do the people of Newtown Connecticut.

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