Why Can’t Dogs Live Forever?

Lessons from my dog

Today was a long day. It was dark when I got up to go to work and dark when I got home. It was rainy and cold and although Autumn is my favourite time of year, it did not feel nice today. But my lousy, cranky mood was instantly elevated when I walked through the door and was greeted by Gilbert.

Gilbert is our dog. He is a 10-pound beast filled with an endless amount of energy, love and neediness that makes up his personality. Although six years old at this point (almost a senior in dog years), he has the same amount of spunk and vitality that he had from day one. The joy he feels for me, and Husband, starts from his perch on the couch when he sees us drive up the lane, festering and rising in intensity by the time we walk in the door and he meets us in the kitchen. He is so excited his entire body is shaking and he zooms around the kitchen and dining room as I give him some love. He is always like this. It doesn’t matter how long we are gone; it could be five minutes, five hours or five days and that little bundle of force is radiating pure joy. A joy that is strictly developed by our very presence.

And it is fascinating to me. It is fascinating that he loves us just for being present. He takes our bad moods and our good moods in stride and will saunter over to plop himself on our lap and lick our face regardless of what attitude we are giving off that day. There are no conditions. No expectations. No requirements in order for him to show his affection and love. He is the essence of what we all strive and wish we could be.

He does not care how my day went, good or bad, and he will listen to me talk about it without judgement.

He does not care how greasy my hair is, or that I have been wearing pajama for two days straight.

He doesn’t care how pretty I am or how much I weigh.

He does not care what I do for work or how much money I make. What car I drive or the size of my house.

He does not hesitate in showing me love even if I get mad at him or he was in trouble earlier that day.

He does not care.

He does not care about anything to do with me unless it is that I feed him, pet him and give him even a semblance of the love he gives in return.

And that is the best.

It the best thing ever to come home for a long hard day at work and feel loved, and cuddled and unjudged. To have another thing, in this case a dog, be perfectly content with me being me. And like everyone who has pets, this is not exclusive to Gilbert. There is a love that most pets have for their owners that are unmatched by anything else.

And we can all take a lesson from our dogs.

We can start trying to treat each other the way Gilbert treats us. Unconditionally. Non-judgmental. Without expectations or requirements for engagement. Just being present. Listening. And every once in awhile quietly, snuggling beside me and just giving some love.

“They motivate us to play, be affectionate, seek adventure, and be loyal.”

– Tom Hayden

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