Dogs make us better humans

I was at Cabrini hospital late yesterday afternoon and afterwards walking back towards the station I passed by one of those elegant and charming houses that sprinkle Malvern streets. This house was vintage a century or so ago, with a stately pitched roof and a wide veranda that went around the corner and down the side. The house sat amid a lovely little garden.

I was alone on the quiet street and as I passed by I glanced at the house. Laying on the veranda with its paws dangling over the stone lip of the veranda was a lovely golden retriever, surveying the street.

I can’t resist a dog. I see a dog and something melts in me. There’s no question I esteem dogs generally much more than their masters – though it’s true a beautiful and friendly dog reflects glory on its owner, and I’m well disposed towards them because of it.

I walked by the house with my eyes on the dog feeling something warm inside me. Had he been within reach I’d have stopped and cooed at him and given his chest or behind his ear a scratch. This time my eyes met his and locked. He watched, as dogs love to do, his head tracking me as I went by.

What a life this is, I thought. No doubt he is a much adored family pet. Maybe he was laying there waiting for someone to return home. Or maybe he just took himself away from the hustle and bustle inside to take his leisure gently observing the world on the warm flagstones of the veranda.

Dogs are mighty smart animals – or at least have mighty smart instincts. I gave a thing for dogs, but dogs seem to have a thing for me. I can’t go to someone’s house without the family dog gravitating to me. They sense my affection I think. They know I’m on their side, and that when I look at them I see much more than a pet. We become great buddies very quickly, and they never forget.

There’s a friendly golden lab in the office. One of the ladies working here is near blind and the dog – Joy – helps her get about. I bump into them occasionally at the lift or in the kitchen. I watch Joy and take pleasure in the gentle obedience of her and the unquestioning duty she assumes. Part of me twinges to think she’s not living her life fully, but then who’s to say that Joy doesn’t take great satisfaction in her duties? The pity is misplaced in any case because when she’s out of the harness Joy is just another carefree dog.

I sit nearby now and observe her going from one person to another familiarly. Sometimes she’ll just lay under someone’s desk. At other times she’ll spark up when there’s a ball in the vicinity. Occasionally she’ll go galloping down the space between the desks in an expression of doggish pleasure.

Joy will visit me sometimes. She’ll wander over and rub against me while I give her a pat and a caress. She’ll lay on her back muttering with pleasure and leaving a patch of fine hair on the carpet where she was. Sometimes she’ll sit across the way in the middle of everything and I’ll look across and our eyes will meet. I’ll keep looking back while she simply gazes upon me as if this is her due. It does me good to have such a beautiful animal around the office.

Life is better with dogs around.

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