Every so often, I read something or someone gives me a clipping that inspires a column. A friend sent an article from the September issue of "Science of Mind" magazine, written by Diane Morgan. It talks about the wonderful value dogs contribute to our lives, either by what they give to us, or by what they require from us that keeps us active, feeling needed and loved. All that we need to do in order to receive these gifts is to allow our dogs into our lives. Once we make that step, open that door, the dog generally will do the rest. These gifts will come to us if we choose to accept them.
The first gift is Healing.
It is a well known fact that dogs are soothing to our souls. They can lower our blood pressure, reduce stress and help us live longer, more meaningful lives. Dogs are wonderful listeners. We can vent our frustrations, talk about our fears and discuss some big decisions that are weighing on our minds. Just by talking about these things out loud, we often find our answers.
Dogs can help relieve depression by always being there for us.
New studies are showing just how amazing dogs are in determining in advance when a seizure or diabetic reaction will occur.
Dogs bring us new friends by encouraging people to approach and open the door for conversation.
The value of therapy dogs in hospitals and in senior residences, with Alzheimer's patients and those recovering from serious surgeries, particularly children, has been proven. Prisoners are now training assistance dogs and are receiving gifts that they thought were forever lost to them. Assistance dogs give independence to many.
The second gift is that of Responsibility.
Once we adopt a dog, or any pet, we are assuming responsibility for its care. We have domesticated the dog and now he depends on us to provide for him. His need for us provides purpose and meaning to our lives. We can simply put out food and water or we can form an emotional bond with him. The greater the bonding, the greater the exchange of gifts.
Enthusiasm is a gift that keeps us enjoying our pets.
They are always ready to play, take a walk or just have a visit. "You don't need to ask a dog twice to have fun. They never worry about waiting till the dishes are done or the floor is swept." They cherish every second. "Why waste it. Why not savor it?" writes Morgan.
No one can dispute the dog's gift of Forgiveness.
Dogs do not carry grudges. We can lock them up, forget dinner, yell at them when we are upset about something they had absolutely nothing to do with and go off and leave them. They are so very quick to forgive and forget. They are always happy to see us and be with us and are ever hopeful for a kind word and an ear rub, no matter how brief.
One of the dog's greatest gifts is Love.
They love us no matter what we do or do not do for them. Dogs are social animals and need to be part of a unit. Their people family might be all they have. The more time we spend with our dog, the more opportunity he has to shower us with his love. The depth of his love is best expressed when we walk through the door after a separation -- no matter how brief.
Dogs can tell when we are upset and are quick to reassure us that they are there for us.
But are we listening?
There have been quantities of amazing stories telling of the love of a dog for his owner. Dogs have saved family members from burning houses, alerted family members when a child was sick, led a child out of the path of danger and given their lives to save their beloved family. Dogs have visited the graves of their loved one years after a death. Dogs are masters of the gift of love. They give it freely, without question.
Laughter is a dog's gift to us if we stop to recognize the humor in their antics. Many are natural comedians and the more we laugh, the more they perform. In trying to attract our attention, they jump, toss the ball, stand up on their toes and run in circles.
"The best reason of all to keep a dog is for the illimitable joy dogs provide. The family dog is always there to remind us that no matter what challenges we may be facing, he is there for you, and it's time for a walk, a cuddle and the next adventure." Concludes Morgan.
But most of all, I believe the greatest gift we receive from our dog is friendship. What better friend could we have? One that does not talk back, criticize, blame, argue, demand or leave.One that always has time for us, is happy to see us, wants to be with us even when we are in foul humor, listens and stands by us through all life's pleasures and difficulties. But then, our dog's friendship contains all those gifts in a warm, wagging-tail package, including healing, responsibility, enthusiasm, forgiveness, love and laughter.
We just must remember to open that door.
The mobile spay and neuter clinic will be in Payson on Sept. 14, 15 and 16. Call the Humane Society for information.
The third annual Dog Day in the Park will be Oct. 16, rather than Oct. 2 as previously reported.
Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.