Man’s Best Friend

Today, after 14 wonderful years, I laid to rest my loyal companion Scooby. Sad as it always is to say goodbye, I have no intention of dwelling on the loss or seeking pity, but i would rather remember fondly the times we spent together and what he taught me. It is this which I would like to share with you today.

Dogs have long been regarded as man’s best friend, and anybody who has ever been blessed with a four-legged friend will surely agree. They are not, however, to everyone’s liking. Certain breeds are even branded as  dangerous and inspire fear in many.

It is fair to say that some breeds of dog have characteristics and instincts which are sought after by potential owners. For instance, someone seeking a guard dog may be drawn towards a Doberman, an Alsatian or a Pitbull. At the end of the day, it should be remembered that dogs are animals and can’t control all of their instincts and impulses all of the time. If you are thinking of welcoming a dog into your life, this is why you should do your research and think carefully about what kind of dog would be the best match for you. That said, much of the negative behaviour which is associated with dogs, and which the media loves to warn us about, is down to the way they were raised and trained. It is not easy to raise and train a dog. It is not cheap either, but if you have the opportunity to do so, the time, effort and cost are so very worth it.

Scooby was a Pitbull, but he was also one of the calmest and friendliest of dogs. Of course, he would growl and bark if he thought we were being threatened but he was generally a sweet, loving bundle of energy. When he was brought home, he was so small that he could fit in the palm of my hand. Despite the temptation to cuddle him relentlessly, his training slowly started instead. The thing is, we tend to forget the small fact that many breeds of dog don’t stay little and cuddly forever (unless, of course, you have a Chihuahua) but little puppy is always more malleable and easier to train than an adult dog.

So, we invested the time and effort into training Scooby when he was little, and this in turn made life with him so much easier as he grew and grew and grew. As he grew, a curious thing happened too. No longer needing much training, Scooby switched from student to teacher and this is what he had to teach us;

  • Unconditional love. When you spend time with a dog and make the effort to forge a bond between you, they will love you. Unconditionally. No matter what, your dog will be there for you, asking for nothing in return other than food and water. And maybe a little attention.
  • Forgiveness. Occasionally, a dog will try to test the boundaries of what constitutes acceptable behaviour. We, in turn, are forced to discipline them whether that means sending them out of the room or taking a favourite toy away. In spite if this, their love for us remains intact and all is very quickly forgiven and forgotten.
  • Companionship.  When you have a dog, you can never be never truly alone. Dogs have a keen sense for our moods, and will always be there to cheer us up if we are having a bad day. Dogs have a wonderful ability to know when we need them the most and never let us down.
  • An appreciation for nature. Being lucky enough to live near a forest, this is where Scooby got most of his exercise. While he walked or ran, I got to enjoy the visual beauty of this gem on my doorstep, as well as the peace and tranquility it offered.

So, thank you Scooby for being such a good friend and wise teacher. All of the above are lessons that everybody could, in fact, benefit from. We live such fast-paced lifestyles, with so many our interactions being digital, that we often forget to take a step back and actually enjoy the journey we are on. Life would be so much richer if we loved one another more, forgave more easily and actually made the effort to be there for each other in person. As for developing an appreciation for nature, who wouldn’t benefit from quieting their mind in peaceful, beautiful surroundings?

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