Canines are more than teeth

Jennifer - Gaithersburg, Maryland
Entered on April 7, 2009
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

They have eaten my music, my toys, my shoes, my clothes. They have drawn blood, left scars and covered me with saliva.

And yet, their beautiful, loving loyalty wins them my undying admiration every time.

I believe in dogs.

I have a friend named Razz. Her dog, Missy becomes so happy to see me that she urinates every time I go to visit. I know of no human, no matter how much they have missed me, or how long I have been gone, who pays me this honor.

Dogs have a gift of what I call “immediate intimacy.” The sniffing, the licking, it all amuses me to no end. We humans have to deal with our elaborate rituals of personal space, and handshake-vs-hug, kiss on one cheek, or two? It’s crazy. Dogs come over, and with a sniff and a lick, you are friends. It’s easy.

I do not own a dog right now. I get my ‘puppy love’ from friends and colleagues who go out of town, and leave me to care for their 4 legged children. Different sizes, different breeds- custom, cross, pure, I take them with me. They pass no judgment on my food container-filled car. In fact, they revel in the new sniffs, and interesting odors. They ride curled up on my seats, or perch themselves on the little tape holder between my seats-and survey the traffic, putting Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra to shame. They look royal. To me, they are.

I was dog sitting for my best friend’s Cocker Spaniel, when I received word of a friend’s suicide. The dog, immediately sensing my distress, came, and was by my side the whole rest of the weekend, even though I put on that fake “brave face” that we humans do. The dog sensed my distress, even when the people around me did not.

The Greek word for a spinster is αγαμος, or agamos. I choose to split it aga-making the prefix, from the root agape. Love. Or, as the King James translators used it, charity-the pure love of Christ. The suffix, -mos then becomes then a root that is found in the word δεμος, demos, or people-the origin of the English word democratic. ‘Love’ with ‘democracy’ therefore becomes something different than the more traditional α-γαμος a woman without a wedding; it becomes the challenge to love ALL MANKIND with the same love.

I am not there yet, but my dog friends teach me this. Therefore, I believe in dogs.