There has been a lot of research done on the behavior of animals, especially dogs.

Some universities have even opened canine cognition labs. Dogs’ intelligence, behavior, biology and skills have been the subject of scientific research for a long time.

There is a lot to be said about living with one of those magical creatures.

I hate the phrase “owning a dog” because it somehow implies one is the master and one is the slave. Depending on which day it is, that role varies at my house.

Our dog is a seven-year-old Pomeranian named Princess Isabella Sophia McGill. That is quite a mouthful, but my daughter named her after the animated character Princess Sofia.

She only weighed 1.5 lbs. when we got her and now weighs a whopping 4.3 lbs.  I went looking for a black, male Pomeranian but one glimpse of her and I was smitten. She was born with a club foot, and I was so concerned about what would happen to her, I insisted we bring her home with us.

To say that she rules the roost would be an understatement. She is very vocal about her needs and if you happen to forget your watch or check the time, you will be told immediately when it is noon and 5 p.m. And you will only do that once without being scolded for your ineptness.

One psychologist wrote a book that makes an argument that the trait which makes dogs remarkable is the capacity to form affectionate relationships with other species, especially humans. He said he believes dogs do have the capacity to form human-like bonds with their people.

For anyone who has ever had a pet, you know this statement is true.

A dog’s love life is complicated. Specifically, they fall in love more easily and move on more easily than humans. That trait could be more human-like than we want to admit. Depending on the human, of course.

One special quality these animals possess is the capability to form relationships with anything. They have been known to accept members of any species if they are exposed early in life.

The world would be a much nicer place if we could be more accepting of people who are different from us. Looking beyond a person’s outward appearance and realizing that knowing them could improve our lives would be a great start. We could learn a lot from our canine friends about acceptability and inclusion.

The loyalty factor alone makes having a dog as a pet worthwhile. Dogs are not fickle companions. They do not judge. They welcome your constant companionship and care deeply about our mental health.

If humans displayed more concern for their friends and neighbors’ mental health, there would be less need for mental health experts. Sometimes all people want is for someone to care they are alive and to be heard.

But humans have a way of “not my problem” thinking,” which often makes us seem selfish and uncaring.

Every day our dogs make us smile and even laugh out loud. The ability to pass that gift along to others would be an amazing trait to have. And yet we often get so wrapped up in our own lives and problems, we forget to even share a smile when we do encounter other folks.

I love the story a vet shared about an experience he had while undertaking the necessary task of euthanizing a family pet. The dog was terminally ill with cancer and was in great pain.

The family were present at the procedure along with their six-year-old son.  The family and the vet were lamenting how sad it is that dogs do not live as many years as humans. The boy’s perfect explanation was priceless.

The little boy asked, “People are born so they can learn to love everybody and be nice, right?” He continued, “Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to say as long as we do.”

There are many valuable lessons we could learn from our dogs. These include living simply, being faithful, loving unconditionally and giving back more than you receive.

In a world full of hate and anger, we would be wise to share the lessons we can learn from our dogs.

In some ways, dogs are even better than humans anyway.

 Ask yourself when the last time someone was waiting at the door with a smile when you came home or just sat beside you when you were sad. Better yet, when was the last time you made someone feel like they were the only person in the room?

Kindness and love are what dogs are all about. Learning how to practice both would make better people of us all.

Anita McGill is a former publisher of The Sentinel. She can be reached by email at anitamcgill99@gmail.com.

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