Just a Dog

By: Anne Corke

Mar 21 2017

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Category: dogs, Life stories


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Camera:Canon PowerShot SX10 IS

I am a lover of almost all creatures on this earth, the exceptions being blackflies and mosquitoes, though I do recognize their essential part in nature. My parents were animal lovers and I was raised with pets – dogs, cats, rabbits, pigeons, turtles, fish, etc. I guess that’s why I’ll never understand people who aren’t interested, who aren’t attracted to other species. My neighbour has a sign at his front door: “Thank you for not bringing your livestock.”. He and I are obviously on totally different wavelengths when it comes to animals though to give credit where it’s due, at least he feeds the birds. My dogs of course recognize his apathy towards them and are inclined to bark at him, whereupon he ‘barks’ back at them. He has never tried to make friends with them though he’s lived here for many years. To him, they are just a nuisance, and their owner, a bit of a lunatic for putting up with them.

I will admit that my dogs can be a lot of work but they are also interesting, loving companions. Living alone, I talk to them, sing to them, on occasion read to them. I take them for rides in the car and walks in the park. In summer, we share a cone at Dairy Queen, in winter, a box of Timbits. We play together in the daytime. We watch television in the evenings. They run to greet me at the door when I come home. They are the reason that I get up at a respectable hour most days. They are the reason that I get regular exercise and fresh air. They make me smile every day. On the very rare occasion when they are not in the house, it’s disconcertingly quiet and lonely. In fact, I just can’t imagine life without them though there are days, when they are particularly naughty, that I threaten (tongue firmly in cheek) to take them to the pound.

I have been involved with our local therapy dog group for many years and I have seen firsthand what a difference our dogs make in the lives of those we visit in hospital and in long term care. With wagging tails and silly grins, they brighten the days of our clients and the staff who care for them. And often the dogs can reach those who have withdrawn from the world around them. Somehow they know who needs them most and they seek them out and give them special attention. This is the essence of their nature, they give love freely and unconditionally.

And apart from the day to day companionship that my dogs provide, there are special moments too. Moments when we seem to connect on a deeper level. Moments when the differences and the distance between our species seems to disappear, when Sophie falls asleep in my arms and I can feel her wee heart beating next to mine, when Danny curls up beside me on the bed, his back to mine so we can ward off any enemies who might appear in the night, when we manage to communicate with one another in spite of having no common language, when we exchange brief but knowing glances that tell us that, in spite of our occasional misunderstandings, we’re in this together through thick and thin. These moments are the magic that my neighbour, and folks like him, will never know. Richard Biby summed it up perfectly when he wrote:

Just a Dog

From time to time, people tell me, “lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or, “that’s a lot of money for just a dog.” They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for “just a dog.” Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog.” Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a dog,” but I did not once feel slighted. Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a dog,” and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog” gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it’s “just a dog,” then you will probably understand phrases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.” “Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. “Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that make me a better person. Because of “just a dog,” I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future.

So, for me and folks like me, it’s not “just a dog” but the embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment. “Just a dog” brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a dog” but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a man.” So the next time you hear the phrase, “just a dog,” just smile, because they “just don’t understand.”

by Richard Biby, Contributing Editor
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Copyright 2017 Anne Corke

2 comments on “Just a Dog”

  1. Very well said. I wonder what made your neighbour turn out like this. But then again, I’m a dog lover too. So true: it’s not just a dog.

  2. I miss having a dog every single day. I get my fur cuddles – don’t get me wrong, but it’s NOT the same as a dog! GOOD thing I have dog friends!!!!!! X

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