The Magic of Paws …
by Stephen Doherty
February 19th, 2023
“If I could be half the person my dog is,
I’d be twice the human I am.” –Charles Yu
Meet Aspen and Harley – recent furry adoptees of my son and daughter, Braden and Julia. Now .. I have always loved dogs (who doesn’t) but I had grown accustomed to the absence of fur and parental responsibility since the loss of my beloved Golden Retriever, Winston – so many decades ago.
The emergence of these two furry characters, one in my own home – courtesy of my daughter, and the other at my son’s house – has been a stark reminder that life without a pooch is a life deprived. In pretty short order, I have achieved canine zealotry – a state of nirvana brought on by such an abundance of unconditional love and the sheer joy of living! I don’t know what it feels like to be “touched” by an angel, but this has to be close!
Charles Krauthammer once wrote of dogs, “Some will protest that in a world with so much human suffering, it is something between eccentric and obscene to mourn a dog. I think not. After all, it is perfectly normal–indeed, deeply human–to be moved when nature presents us with a vision of great beauty. Should we not also be moved when it produces a vision–a creature–of the purest sweetness?” “Purest … Sweetness.” Has there ever been a more perfect description for man’s best friend? It’s hard to conceive of words more beautiful, thoughtful, and spot-on true.
Of the many – and there are many – benefits to owning a dog, perhaps none pleases me more than to see the impact these six words have on our girl, Aspen. “Wanna go for a WALK?!” She goes absolutely berserk with happiness and excitement! Now, I can’t speak for the rest of you – but finding even one thing in our lives that we can celebrate with a fraction of this enthusiasm, would be a worthwhile endeavor. Having such a simple daily reminder can’t be anything but a “good” thing.
We live in a world that is often tough and hard. For reasons to plentiful to recount here – our society and culture seem embroiled in a level of meanness and dismissiveness that cannot be healthy for our hearts and souls. I won’t add to that sadness with current statistics on suicide and drug addiction – except to suggest that a hard or hurting heart might be softened with a furry and enthusiastic head laying in their laps. Truly, could there be a more perfect emotional buoyancy? I often wonder how many broken lives could be repaired or saved with this infinite source of unconditional love?
Not everyone can or wants to own a dog. The reasons are as plentiful as they are legitmate and heartfelt. I can only say that the spiritual communion that normally occurs between dog and human, is a miraculous event of harmony and grace. Every good thing in us is magnified and accelerated through the prism of a dog’s loving spirit and unconditional loyalty and devotion.
I’ve watched both of my kids experience incredible gains in their emotional repertoire as they’ve redesigned the framework of their lives to include these incredible bundles of joy. For me? The hardest day of my life was the day I put my Golden Retriever, Winston, down for good. Harley and Aspen have been an incredible reminder that loss is merely a part of life – and that the beautiful experience of such loving and devoted companions – is well worth the invoice.
“A dog is one of the few things in life
that is exactly as it seems.” -Unknown