This I Believe

Shaunacy Ferro - Santa Paula, California
Entered on May 8, 2007

I wanted to come up with something fresh and unique for this essay. However, after weeks of racking my brain for any belief to cling to, in the bottom of the hour my deep belief is neither very fresh nor very unique. Nevertheless, this makes it no less true. Almost everything I need to know, minus reading and calculus, I can learn from my dog. This sounds cliché to even to me—something drawn from my childhood of begging my parents “please please please can I get a puppy?” But if I think hard enough, my dog has taught me how to be happy.

The smallest things in life count. Whether it is over a cookie or just someone coming home for the night, enthusiasm abounds in a dog. At times I get wrapped up in school and stress and forget about being happy for the good in life. If my dog could talk, she would tell me, “I would kill for that beef jerky you’re holding. It would make my day. Stop looking sad.”

This brings me to another life lesson I have learned from her. It’s okay to be fat. She doesn’t worry about looking like the dogs on Purina commercials, so why should I worry about looking like a model? In fact, she would rather be rotund and portly as she is. She wouldn’t imagine going on a diet, as she is quick to remind me with soulful looks when I give her a diet-esque dinner portion. It’s better to be happy with your cake than to sit miserably munching your celery.

Aside from counseling me on my body image issues, from my dog I’ve learned to forgive and forget. Even when I yell at her or forget to feed her or don’t let her in the house when she wants, she never is angry. The past is the past, and she does not dwell on it. Actually I’m not so sure about her memory, but it’s the principle that counts. She makes me remember that people make mistakes, and it’s nothing to get all worked up over. You’re better off without lasting grudges anyway.

Last, she has taught me to stand up for what I need. When I do forget to feed her, she makes sure I know it. She is not afraid to bark loud and long until I change my ways. She’s not afraid of a little protest. If she doesn’t stand up for herself, I might push her needs aside in favor of my own, and that’s not cool. She has taught me to not be afraid to call people on their mistakes, and to try and change things.

There are countless other things she has taught me. She has showed me what I shouldn’t do as well as what I should. For instance, you will always regret chasing a skunk, and drinking toilet water makes people less likely to be around you. However, the do not’s are not quite as important as the do’s. My dog has made me a better person. Maybe it’s a stretch to say without her I would not know how to be happy, but she has without a doubt taught me most of what I know.