This I Believe

Stephanie - Kensington, Maryland
Entered on November 9, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe that a cold wet nose and a velvety ear have made me a better human. I have always loved dogs. They bring me joy; whether it is the tired, moist eyes of my Jack Russell, Paddy, when he has run until his heart’s content or the high pitched “yip-yip” of my German Wire Haired Pointer, Bruder, as he chases a buck with a full rack of antler by the stream.

I used to be a Spanish teacher. I taught high school and quit when I became pregnant with my older daughter. Teaching was gratifying, but the constant glow of incandescent filament, shuffling of papers and bleary eyed computer stupors left me starving for fresh air and well-being.

When my younger daughter approached first grade, I began to take stock of my life. Some of my happiest times were with my dogs. My childhood memories are peppered with canine -ber dogs. There was Hansie, our 170 pound brindle Great Dane, who chased the “Fancy Ice” delivery man out of our garage when my mom forgot Hans was in there. There was Tim Tim, my tri-colored collie, who was so smart that he understood what “C-A-T” meant. And of course I could never forget my sweet Elsa, the Mastiff, who was so trusting and docile that I could place my 9 month old infant between her paws.

Life was calling me. I knew what I had to do. I had found my niche. I began taking copious notes on training methods, thought about my business model, even did my own artwork for my cards. The business has been slow in growing. My success I measure in friendships. I have made many new friends and while I don’t always remember their names, I always remember their dogs’.

The essence of dogs is TRUTH. There is truth in a puppy sleeping deeply after playing. There is truth in the sheer exhilaration of a Labrador bounding off a dock into the icy water. There is truth in the look of complete trust and vulnerability that an old companion gives you when you both realize that his time has come to an end.

My life has been so enriched by my non-human comrades. They have shown me how to enjoy every moment, how to appreciate the richness of nature. They have taught me that a true friend is there in good and bad. I suppose that this quality helps explain the human attraction to canis familiaris. In many ways dogs display more humanity than we humans do. I have certainly learned from them how to be a more compassionate and considerate human being.

This I believe.