I’m a dog person.  It’s not that I don’t like cats.  I’ve just never been around cats so I don’t understand them the way I understand dogs.

Pets are significant creatures through all the Chapters in our lives.  They become part of the family, showing up in snapshots and on Christmas cards.  Often they are the only constant in chaotic schedules, always at the door to welcome their owners back home.  Always forgiving regardless of whether you’ve been gone an hour or a week.

Seriously.  Do your kids ever greet you the way your dog does when you arrive back home?

Our dogs don’t care if we’re fat, bald, smelly, wrinkly, rich, poor, or laid off.  They only care.

Young woman with her dog on the beach.

As an owner you take them on their daily walks.  The trips to the vet.  The baths.  The feeding.  Generally we don’t take our pets for granted because they weave their way into the fabric of our lives so perfectly, it’s hard to imagine them not being around.

And it’s an unbelievably sad day when it happens.

Everyone gets one terrifically wonderful dog in their lifetime.  Ours was Bob.  He was a pound puppy and we jokingly said he was half labrador and half chicken because we didn’t know what else he might be.  He was so friendly and such a character we truly believe he probably had more friends than we ever imagined.

And yes.  It was an unbelievably sad day when he died.

So I sat down to write about Bob the Dog because I missed hearing his collar jingle and his snoring and the way he followed me around the house constantly.  I began a list of all the funny, stupid and sometimes crazy things he did….

And I began a list of the things he “taught” me about life.


Things I Learned from Bob the Dog

  • Too much chocolate CAN be a bad thing.
  • Take a nap every day.
  • Always stretch before going on a run.
  • When you meet new people, greet them with a smile and wag your tail. 
  • Sometimes there is nothing better than laying in the warm sunshine.
  • Be mindful of the alpha dog. Without an alpha, the pack doesn’t have a leader and packs must have leaders.
  • Keep your ears clean, your nails clipped, your breath fresh, and take baths. Everyone else will like to be around you much more than if you don’t.
  • Be gentle around little people and senior citizens.
  • Get some exercise daily.
  • If you lose your judgment and roll in poop, your family will be mad when you show up on the doorstep. Your family will still love you and clean you up and forgive your mistakes. No one else will.
  • Get your teeth cleaned twice a year. It keeps you healthy.
  • Greet guests in your home appropriately. Then know when to back off.
  • Games and mild teasing are fun . . . but you have to know when to quit.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street.
  • Having someone special to scratch your ears, or rub your belly, or just sit with is a nice thing.
  • Sense when someone needs you.  Sometimes just being there is all you can do.
  • Always be ready for an adventure.
  • Share your enthusiasm.
  • When you take a walk remember to sniff, look, listen, feel, and taste everything in the moment.
  • No matter where you roam, there’s no place like home.
  • There are some dogs and people who are obnoxious and it is best to just ignore them.
  • Some people are dog people and some people are cat people.
  • If someone doesn’t like you, it’s best to walk away. There are lots who appreciate you for exactly who you are. Don’t waste time on the others.
  • Love someone wholly and unconditionally and they will love you 100 times more in return.

And then I started to connect the dots of those memories and realized something.

Maybe Bob was training me.

Maybe all dogs are training their humans.

Maybe dogs share their Life Lessons with humans they love for the Chapters they’ll continue to write.  

Maybe we learn something from the dogs who love us.

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they do make our lives whole”.  It’s a quote by Roger Carras sent to me by a friend who recently lost her terrifically wonderful dog.

So this is for Bob and Baxter and Chandler and Coco.  Shoeshine and Blue and Minnie and Rhoda.  Bailey and Buttons.  Cleo and Duke.  Bear, Keeper and Elvis.  Taffy.  Shanna.  Dundee.   All those terrifically wonderful dogs . . . and yours too . . . who put countless smiles on the faces of their owners and who made their lives whole.


Do you have a terrifically wonderful dog that’s been a chapter in your life?  Is there a Life Lesson you learned from him?  What chapter did your terrifically wonderful dog help you write?