By Joe Rector

Amy, Dallas, and I sat down the other night to watch the first episode in a Netflix series about dogs. Of course, granddog Harvey and our pooch Sadie watched with us. Every bark led to their ears perking up and their heads looking around the room in search of a fellow canine. The show was about service dogs, and Dallas and I could only take one episode at a time. Our emotions seemed to have gotten the best of us.

Most people know that there’s something special about dogs.  A puppy makes even the grumpiest person smile; I should know because my family tells me I am that obnoxious person. The majority of folks have more positive views of those little four-legged creatures than they do of the  two-legged variety. Dog lovers delight in snuggling with a pup, and nothing quite matches the softness of a little dog’s fur.

We dog owners know the value of a mutt. The truth is that all dogs are service dogs. They keep many of us sane when our worlds are spinning out of control. A short session of having dogs sit by our sides eases the tensions and stress that build as we go about our jobs and relationships. When those times that we lose someone close come, dogs are sometimes the only living creatures that allow us to grieve unchecked until we recover.

A child never finds a better friend than a dog. It is always glad to see her, and playing for hours on end never grows boring. A dog’s energy also can outlast a parent’s. A nap is much easier to survive when a stinky, shaggy dog is curled up in the crook of a tiny body. No dog ever resisted the chance to lick a “boo-boo” until it felt better. That dog becomes the best security guard. Any attempts to hurt a small person will result immediately in the sinking of teeth into a culprit’s arm or leg.

We older folks love our dogs as well. Just sitting on the couch and watching television is satisfying, as long as the dog is there. We swore we’d never have a dog in the bed with us, but somehow, they wormed themselves from the floor to the foot of the bed to a place between couples, and the hounds always stretch out their legs so that they become the worst of all bed hogs.

What is saddest of all, we tend to lose those animals that we love every bit as much as another human. Their lives are so short, and when they die, we grieve as much as we might do if a family member passed. Years of memories flood back to us the same way they do with our children or our spouses. The loss of a dog leaves us not quite knowing what to do. Our daily routines are interrupted and seem empty. The pain subsides, and then we go out and do the whole thing over with a new pet.

My wife says that dogs are God’s gift to us to make our lives better. I agree, even if they dirty the house with paw prints and hair. I hope heaven is full of dogs.