Why Dogs Truly Are Man's Best Friend

Why dogs can help you see into your inner self.

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Must Love Dogs

5 ways Fido can be the “seeing eye” to your inner self

-Mary Beth Sammons

woman walking two dogsI’ve never considered myself a “dog person,” even though I’ve had dogs in my family since before I could walk. And, oh, yeah, I couldn’t resist my kids’ “please can we have a puppy” pleas – twice. But reality check: I’ve always kind of “questioned” people who cared about their dogs more than people.

Until recently, when it seems that everyone from Pulitzer prize-winning author Anna Quindlen (my writing idol) to Jennifer Aniston and her puppy, Norman, are turning to their pooches for wisdom on how to live their lives fully.

“The life of a good dog is like the life of a good person, only shorter and more compressed,” writes Quindlen, who offers ruminations on how her life unfolded in tandem with her beloved Labrador retriever, Beau.

Just head to the bookstore where readers are grabbing titles that offer advice from old dogs teaching us new tricks. In John Grogan’s Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog (Harper Paperbacks, 2008) the newspaper columnist professes that we all can learn lessons on how to lead happier, more fulfilling lives from our dogs. “Think about it,” he says. “Many of the qualities that come so effortlessly to dogs – loyalty, devotion, selflessness, unflagging optimism, unqualified love – can be elusive to humans.”

Our dogs can even help us save our marriages or fetch a new beau insists Grogan.

I think he’s right. So there I am the other morning feeling like I’m a scene right out of Must Love Dogs – you remember when Diane Lane meets John Cusack? Finding myself on the other end of a leash, pulled into some interesting life lessons by my new puppy, Abbie, a five-month-old Chesapeake Bay retriever, and now “little sister,” to Becky, our Golden. With Abbie pulling me along the same path I’ve run a marathon, a cute guy with his Doberman struts by. As Abbie practically jumps the guy, he says: “Can we (meaning his dog and mine) just say hi? Is your puppy friendly?” Then, suddenly, Charlie (his dog) meets Abbie (my dog), and I am engaged with this hunky guy, who I probably never would have met if it had just been “Mary Beth on a walk past cute guy.”

If I was smart, and took a lesson from Abbie, I would have jumped all over the guy myself. Instead, I let her do the licking, as I demurely made small talk about how this sweet little puppy ate my laptop computer keyboard keys last week and some other moronic conversation tidbits. If I had followed Abbie’s lead, I would have been more like Grohan advises people to be: doing everything with a guileless heart, with an over-the-top zest for life. Translation: not let these opportunities to connect with a cute guy fall lame because I am holding back my enthusiasm and guts.

Certainly our loyal canine friends offer us a valuable lesson on life. Here are five garnered from Quindlen‘s book:

1. Roll with the punches.

2. Take things as they come.

3. Measure yourself not in terms of the past or the future but of the present.

4. Raise your nose in the air from time to time.

5. And, at least metaphorically, holler, “I smell bacon!”

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