“A dog is the only living thing on Earth that will love you more than you love yourself”
My father was the one who decided on getting a Border Collie; he believed them to be an intelligent breed of dogs. I was twelve years old when I first felt the tiny, black and white fur ball in my arms. As soon as I looked into those dazzling blue eyes, joy and delight enveloped me. This is why I chose to give her the name Joy. I felt the fervent bond form as soon as our eyes locked. As I nurtured, cared for, and watched this innocent puppy grow over the years , I was unaware of the overpowering effects she would later have on my life. I was clueless that my complete existence would rely on this playful, furry creature that walks on four legs. I was oblivious that she would become the most important living to ever enter my life. I believe in the everlasting love of my dog.
My father has always told me, “If danger approaches, your cat would run up a tree and hide while Joy would fight to her death to keep you safe.” As a child, I was very adventurous. I enjoyed scurrying around outdoors. I climbed trees, rode my bike, and explored the woods. My trusty sidekick was my dog, Joy. Wherever I went she was sure to follow. I have to say that at the time I only thought of her as my playmate. Boy, did we have fun! One fall afternoon, I decided to go on a speedy bike-ride to the bottom of the gravel road I lived on. It was no more than half a mile; I had been riding down the same road millions of times so nothing was new to me. This time was different. I felt the rocks bombarding into my arms and face and the sturdy metal bike topple over me as I crashed. Pain shot through my whole body as I lay there unable to move. Liquid poured out of my eyes and screams crept out of my lungs. I felt a wet nose nudge my cheek. I was barely able to lift my head up, but I did just enough to stare into the eyes of my guardian angel, my dog, my Joy. The last thing I registered was a pitiful whimper as my blurry vision made out my dog running in the opposite direction. Don’t leave me! I thought pleadingly as the trees surrounding me became a blob of green. Wait a minute; I could hear something it was her barking! Off in the distance, I could hear her persistent barks and whimpers demanding help. She was rescuing me! The last thought that went through my mind was how much I loved my dog, my Joy. The next day, I woke up in a hospital bed with my parents on either side of me. I attempted to reach for them only to discover a cast weighing down my entire left arm. I instinctively asked what happened to me. They replied that the crash bent the bone in my arm, and the doctors had to operate and break the bone so it would heal properly. I wanted to leave the hospital it smelt like old people. I wanted to go home to my precious border collie and wrap my arms around her silky black-and-white fur and tell her how grateful I am to have such a dog. After a few days, the doctors released me and I finally returned to the comfort of my home. I was bed ridden for about a week. I hated that I could not go outside, run, or even play. I lay in bed all day, all twenty-four miserable hours of hurting. I would not have been able to stay there in bed, but right there beside me, every second of every hour, laid my devoted Joy. She refused to leave my room. Stroking her velvety fur calmed me, I smiled every time I felt her cool, wet nose nuzzle against me, and I could snuggle up against her to keep me warm as I slept. She is my guardian angel, my dog, my Joy.
There have been many times in my life when I felt as if the world were crashing down around me. Problems with my friends and the typical teenage drama plagued my first few years of high school. I was under pressure not only in school, but also with playing three after-school sports. It came to many points where I would just have an emotional breakdown, and I felt as if I could not to talk to any of my friends to express how I was feeling. I can remember coming home from school, curling up in my bed and pools of emotion would spill out of me and onto my pillow. I also clearly remember hearing a concerned whimper from my door. I would run to her, to my best friend. Her precious eyes filled with worry as I would rant on and on about the troubles that stirred in my life. She gladly let my tears soak in her fur, and she would even gently lick them off my face. She was a very good listener to my venting. I could tell her anything I knew I could count on her not to share anything I had told her. Her floppy ears have heard my deepest, darkest secrets; secrets that I could never trust with one of my friends or a family member, secrets that most humans are forced to keep deep down inside of them. Not many people are able to say they fully trust their best friend. I trust my best friend with every thought that runs through my mind, with every feeling that goes on inside of me, and overall, with my life. I could never ask for a better friend and companion. She is my best friend, my dog, my Joy.
There are many varieties of love in this world. There is the unconditional love of a parent, the joyful love of a friend, and the romantic love shared between couples. Most humans will experience one, if not all three of these in their lifetime. I have experienced four. The other love that is always present in my life is the everlasting love of my dog. She loves me endlessly, without any limitations or boundaries. She loves without expecting love in return. She gives and does not demand to be given anything in return. It is the utmost unrestricted and selfless love that exists in this world. My dog is able to distinguish my moods from simply being around me. Bad moods are contagious, but dogs are immune. I vividly remember a conspicuously dire day I had last year. I was lounging around downstairs watching television while Joy rested on nearby blanket. Everything was normal enough; it seemed to be a typically boring day. I jolted when I heard my phone ring and quickly answered not knowing that that phone call would make my day turn to absolute horror. One of my close friends had passed away. After abruptly hanging up the phone, I stared into a deep abyss. My rapidly beatimg heart sent shock throughout my veins and I felt like I had turned to stone. I could not even let out a sound or a tear. Before I knew it, my beloved Joy was right beside me, attentively watching my every move. She let out a pitiful whine as she licked the palm of my hand. One notable variation between humans and canines is that while the human sees another is upset and merely shows interest to know why, the canine does not care why it purely wants to comfort. My dearest Joy is aware of all of my emotions, and I do not have to say a word for her to be able to acknowledge that something is bothering me. She stays by my side whether I am joyful or depressed. She knows my heart, and loves me for who I am. She is my beloved, my dog, my Joy.
George Graham Vest once said, “The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog.” She is the only one that will die to save me, the only one who will be by my side no matter what the circumstances, the only one who will never question to me and always listen, and the only one who will always love me. Every part of my heart and soul believes in my furry best friend that walks on four legs, my dog who will love me forever more; my hero, my companion, my Joy.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.