DOG IS GOD SPELLED BACKWARDS
One day last week, I saw a very humorous cartoon in our local newspaper. Yes, I read the “funnies.” It was a cartoon drawing of a man arriving at the pearly gates of Heaven where he was led into the throne of God and found a dog sitting there. The dog looked at the surprised man and said, “What?” “You didn’t know?”
That struck me as hilarious because it reeks of truth. All of the virtues we find in our dogs are those we ourselves often hope to possess. Dogs are loyal, loving, wise, intuitive and smarter than we credit them with being. I don’t mean to exclude cats who can also be loving and intelligent pets but one does have to remember cats spelled backwards is tac; as in thumbtack, independent act and ATTACK!!
Looking back over the past thirty years of my life when I have had chronic pain and chronic illness, our dogs and cats have figured into the mix more than many humans. Of course, our loved ones, friends and the medical community are very influential in all of our lives when we are faced with chronic health problems. They are there for support, a half-hearted but well-meaning ear and a soft shoulder to lean upon but through no fault of their own, their needs must come first. It’s called survival.
Have you ever had a doctor wag his tale in salutation when you entered his office? Has a dear friend ever rushed over to you and licked your face in greeting? Have you ever had your spouse pee on your shoes out of the sheer joy of seeing your smiling face? No? I haven’t had any of these acts occur either and somehow, when giving it some thought, I wouldn’t want them to have happened. We just don’t have the same expectations for our human acquaintances and family as we do for our pets, particularly our canine ones.
Perhaps, the fact we give them more slack in their behavior allows for the sincerity and honesty we experience with our dogs. There is no wall of hesitation with our dogs. With humans we have guards on our sharing, hesitation on showing our emotions and often, a fear of burdening another with our problems. We don’t expect anything from our pets except their love, their companionship and their often faint-hearted attempt to do their business in the yard and not in the house. Sure, we know our friends are housebroken, for the most part. You see our canine buddies are held to a looser standard of behavior and perhaps, we are all the better for it. The gifts we receive in return are their unqualified love, undivided attention and their total lack of judgement.
We don’t have to make an appointment to sit in a recliner or lie on a couch to talk to our dogs. They aren’t the least bit particular where you talk to them, the hour of the day or night and the location. All of these are of small consequence to a canine buddy. On the couch, in the bathroom, in the bathtub, in a swimming pool, or in bed they are always there for us. They may occasionally fall asleep or snore through our recitation but a counselor, spouse or friend can do that, too. When I found out two years ago I had cancer, I could hug our little Yorkie, George, endlessly and weep into his soft fur. He would occasionally lick the tears away and always sense something was wrong with me as he felt called to duty. Under those same circumstances I felt I had to be brave for my spouse, family and friends. George had no such expectations of me. I asked George endless questions about why this had to happen to me in addition to all the physical problems I already faced. No, he didn’t have the answers for me but I felt better for the asking. We are different people with our dogs and cats than with humans. There is an almost naked trust we know is always reciprocated by them.
After cancer surgery my feelings were all over the place. I still had all of my rheumatoid pain and all of its complications and I was overwhelmed. Radiation had caused so much pain and damage to my chest, my sitter was still a problem and then, upon learning the cancer had spread, I confess I was a bit of a mess. One day my oncologist asked me if I had a dog. Under the circumstances it struck me at first with its simplicity and then I saw the profound truth in it. Indeed, I had a dog and he was at that moment in the car with my husband. We also had another one at home who was old and dying and needed us more than we needed him. Is there ever a time in our lives when the Golden Rule applies more than with our pets? We attempt to do unto them as we would have them do unto us, loosely speaking of course. They often give us a chance to care for them and that is always a growth experience for us humans. We have to judge them, if we judge them at all, on a far different scale. I’m still looking for a dog or cat who can dust the furniture, cook dinner and clean the bathrooms. I suppose I could tie a feather duster to George’s tiny tail but he just isn’t tall enough to get the job done.
I can think of few humans, friends or relatives who get as excited to see us as our pets, canine and feline. Little George Washington Wood, our Yorkshire terrier, greets me each time I am out of the house for more than 30 seconds as if I had just come back from the wars. He has a special greeting after he has made the initial tail wagging and whimpering bit in which he runs up the staircase inside our entry way and looks for the step which is just the right height to greet whomever he is greeting. He has a taller step to reach my husband, a lower step for me and ones still lower to greet the grandchildren. Everyone gets a kiss which involves the receiving of a wet nose and mouth as he loves, takes inventory of what we’ve been eating and generally exudes love and happiness through the openings in the rails. Wouldn’t it be a different type of world if we greeted each other in a similar manner, perhaps without all the moisture. There again, the double standard as we accept slobbering in a dog but not from each other, well, French kissing aside.
Dogs and cats give us an amazing example to follow. When they are injured they usually trudge on through. Seldom do you see a dog who feels sorry for himself. Cats just let it out and get steamed. I’ve also noticed cats can be long time planners as they seek revenge for some act that frightened them or surprised them. Both of these types of animals are much more intelligent than we believe them to be. Perhaps, there is a deeper understanding within them than we can even imagine. We know they can usually find their way home across great distances. We know they can bravely carry on after losing a limb. We know they can be protective of those they love and take on creatures much larger than themselves if needed or often even if not needed. Seldom do you see a dog exhibiting self-pity. Yes, you occasionally see one who continues to limp when he needn’t but that may be one of the things they learned from us. Oh dear, as I type I realize we have much more in common than I originally thought. Perhaps, we are more like our critters than we thought. I wonder who taught whom? I suspect they are all, our four legged friends, just nicer “people” than we are. I suspect we all have a lot to learn from them. As for the expression, “Dog is God spelled backwards,” I know our critters are closer to Him than most of us are as we live our tangled lives and they live on in simplicity. So much to learn, so little time. I’d better get busy.