Why People Love Dogs

Why People Love Dogs

Dogs disagreed“The way I see it, dogs had this big meeting, oh, maybe 20,000 years ago. A huge meeting—an international convention with delegates from everywhere. And that’s when they decided that humans were the up-and-coming species and dogs were going to throw their lot in with them. The decision was obviously not unanimous. The wolves and dingoes walked out in protest.

Cats didn't agree with dogs“Cats had an even more negative reaction…(denouncing) canine subservience to the human hyperpower…Using guile and seduction, they managed to get humans to feed them, thus preserving their superciliousness without going hungry.

“Dogs, being guileless, signed and delivered. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Charles Krauthammer, “Of Dogs and Men,” Things That Matter

I have a sweet old black lab with the kindest brown eyes. She just turned thirteen. Though her gait has slowed, she brightens with any hint of a walk outside.

black dog on snow

There’s something stunningly beautiful about the profile of a black dog against a wintery landscape. As Mary Oliver wrote…

dog joy in snowHer dog “romps, breaking the new snow with wild feet, running here running there, excited, hardly able to stop…until the white snow is written upon in large, exuberant letters, a long sentence, expressing the pleasures of the body in this world.”[i]

hunting dog

My husband says our dog was an entirely different creature on bird hunting adventures. A fanatical retriever, she’d come limping into the house all scraped and tattered from the chase—but proud with fulfillment.

And yet she’s gentle and nana-like around babies and small children, fretting over their cries, and sneaking a kiss with her soft pink tongue. She’s gone deaf now, and follows me throughout the house, curling up wherever I am—my shadow companion.

Truth be told, I am a cat-lover—but I do love this dog.

dog and ownersMy husband is a bona fide dog lover. He composes a new love song for her each morning, singing exuberantly until she circles him with incessant tail wags and finally rolls to her back. By then, he is crouching down to kiss her velvet crown. It’s a ritual that begins the day.

My daughter-in-law, Tess, is equally smitten by our dog. Dropping to the floor, her voice rises an octave as she coos and coddles the delighted hound. Our dog’s ears curl up like small wings and her entire body quivers with happiness over the affection.

Being somewhat on the outside of this mutual attraction, I asked Tess to explain:

Dogs look for connection“I love dogs because they always provide unconditional love,” she said. “They know when you’re sad, and they comfort you. They always greet you as if you are the best part of their day. It’s an equally vulnerable and sweet connection—and they’re always seeking ways to connect.”

She summarized saying it comes down to a question of reliance—“Will you be there for me?” Many people without dependable human relationships receive an unequivocal “yes” to this question from a dog.

Mark Twain once said, “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”

young dogSelflessly, dogs show up when others don’t.

“No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog.”
― Dean KoontzA Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog

I can’t really explain why my heart is attached to cats given the merits of knowing a dog.

Author Christopher Hitchens made a funny but true observation when he wrote this:

“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”

I wonder if God designed dogs with a grander purpose in mind—to awaken a deeply human longing…

The way that music embraces us and rouses our need to worship…

The way a starry sky expands our limited minds with the concept of infinity…

The way scientific discoveries stir our sense of wonder about the mysteries of creation…

What if God created dogs as an earthly glimpse of unrelenting, unconditional love…that by experiencing this unfettered love relationship, it might prompt us to reach for that with Him.

“Will you be there for me, God?”

Without hesitation, He replies…Yes!

__________________

[i] “The Storm,” Devotions, by Mary Oliver, page 31.

Comments

  1. this is a beautiful thing you’ve written here. it so nails the love god has for us.
    suzee B

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