. . . whoever you are — let me just give you ten good reasons to consider (or re-consider) including a dog in your life.
1. You’ll have someone in your life who gets you outside every single day, rain or shine. And believe me, that’s a really good spiritual practice.
2. Dogs are psyched about EVERY meal, even though it’s the same meal twice a day. Keeps you in touch with gratitude.
3. Dogs are pack animals and they need you to be there on a simple physical level. You will feel this and respond to it,and begin to understand that you too are a pack animal. You just might find that the sweetness of this awareness makes you like other human beings more. It’s kind of hard to be a misanthrope when you’ve spent the night flanked by a golden retriever or started your day with a walk with your Boston Terrier or shaggy, grinning mutt.
4. Dogs are both incredibly needy and incredibly precious in their neediness. Pay close attention to how this works and how you respond to it (with love and attention, of course!) and voila, you make come to regard your own neediness from a place of compassion rather than judgment.
5. Dogs are healers. They are a constant lesson in authenticity and unconditional regard. Who doesn’t need that?
6. Being around dogs is a reminder that much of the deepest communication between living beings happens on the non-verbal level. Dogs will help you strengthen your intuition: that doesn’t smell right to me. That’s because it probably isn’t, sweetcakes. Doggies know.
7. Dogs have work to do. Their work may look like play to our eyes, but it’s their work and it matters to them. Watch them as they go about the work that their doggie instincts assign to them, and feel the sheer joy of seeing tail-wagging, snuffling evidence that yes, life does have meaning.
8. Dogs are indefatigably hopeful creatures. They hope you have a snack for them. They hope we’re going outside now. Are we going outside now? They hope they will catch the rabbit. They hope you will praise them when they come running to your whistle. They hope that other dog in the park will want to play with them. They hope you’ll drop some of your dinner on the floor. Spend enough time around that hope and you’re gonna catch some of it. I swear.
9. Your dog loves you. If you’re lucky, your dog loves your friends and their dogs and their kids and everyone you pass on the street, too, but when it comes down to it, YOU are the center of your dog’s universe. And you did absolutely nothing to deserve that amazing status but to provide some kibble and TLC. Let me tell you — especially in today’s economy — that is one sweet deal.
10. There is a dog living in a shelter right now who needs you. Volunteers may be caring for him or her with all the affection they can spare, but that doggie needs a home. Dogs are domesticated animals who need homes and hearthfires to protect, and “masters” to love. Thousands of years have brought their species to this point. Take your cats aside and have a little conversation (I had one with Ermengarde for years before I brought Max home) and tell them that you’re going to be bringing a dog into their home (it is their home, you understand). Tell them that quite to the contrary of their expectations, a dog will be great fun and best of all, will make them seem even more elegant, glamorous and exceptional than they already are.
. . .
Of course, don’t adopt a dog if you’ll just have to crate it for nine hours a day, every day — I think that’s cruel — but think about whether or not you could reasonably include a woofer in your home. I bet you can.