No matter how close

Indian Running with Dog by Paul Manship Exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC, July 2013

Indian Running with Dog by Paul Manship
Exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC, July 2013

“No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog.”
Dean Koontz

Those of us who have adopted an animal will immediately connect with what Koontz is saying here.  Our non-human family members are sometimes the only ones we want to be near at the end of a tiring and discouraging day.   It’s not that we love them more than we love our spouse or children or friends.  It’s just that things are so much more simple with them.

The very things that make humans different from animals — verbal communication, abstract reasoning, ambition and a long view of the future or past — can also make them less than ideal company when we need nothing more than quiet companionship and unspoken but steady affection.  Being with an animal is like solitude, only better.   It has the best assets of privacy and seclusion, brightened by a touch of joy, understanding and fun.

People are wonderful and irreplaceable, but relationships can be terribly complicated at times.  When your life feels overwhelming, I wish you the simple therapy of spending some time with a friendly creature whose mere presence says all that needs to be said.

One year ago today:

I’ve tried


  1. singleseatfighterpilot

    A bumper sticker says, “Lord, help me to be half the man my dog thinks I am!”
    My statement to Heath, the ninety-pound Plott Hound, is similar:
    “I wish I could be as good a human as you are a dog.”

    • This writer at Slate agrees: “Outdoorsmen from as far away as Africa and Japan hold the Plott in near-mystical esteem as perhaps the world’s toughest dog. Bred to track, run down, tree, and, if necessary, grapple with a baying 500-pound bear eight times its size, it is often overmatched but rarely chastened by that fact. Inspect the coat of one that has worked in the woods for a year or more, and you will likely find slash marks from a bear’s claws or a hog’s tusks…Willing to sacrifice themselves before they’ll run from a showdown, they are the ninja warriors of dogdom.” Knowing that bears have been known to frequent your driveway (as captured on security cameras) I think I’d want Heath around if I was ever walking in the woods near your home! But what I remember most about Heath (other than his beautiful brindled coat and sweet eyes) is the enthusiasm with which he greeted me the only time I ever met him. What a sweetheart!

    • Eric, our granddaughter’s dog is a German Shorthaired Pointer that she actually bought from a breeder in Georgia. I’m sure you’re familiar with the breed. I love that bumper sticker quote. 🙂

      • Julia, great photo of Heath! 🙂

        • Thank you, Sheila! Heath is a remarkable dog. Here is another photo of him that I love. I know Eric will always miss Austin, but having Heath around has been a great consolation I am sure. I hope that we will be able to get another dog when our lives become a bit more predictable.

      • singleseatfighterpilot

        Thank you, Sheila and Julia. We once had an English Pointer, but she was more “dainty” than the German Shorthairs I’ve been around (bird hunting). Yes Austin . . . To him I said repeatedly: “I never heard of a dog as good as you!”

        • And I can just imagine Austin receiving that compliment with his low key, unassuming and modest demeanor, at least if anyone else was watching. 😀 He was the straight man to Heath’s enthusiasm, at least it seemed so to me.

  2. Ann

    Julia, you and Dean Koontz are SO right. Right now, I’m sitting on my back porch with my canine companion, Solomon. Life is good.


    • Ann, you are fortunate! Give Solomon a treat for me (or a scratch behind the ears, whichever he prefers).

  3. Ann

    Hi Julia, me again. I just read last year’s blog and comments. Solomon was mentioned again! He is now guarding me from lizards, squirrels and other critters. Oops, he just flopped over on his side so we must be safe😀

    • Ann, after reading this, I just had to go back and read what you wrote about Solomon a year ago! I do feel safer with a dog around. Pasha was much smaller than Solomon, but he didn’t miss anything until he got very old and his hearing and eyesight started to fail. I think his sense of smell mostly stayed with them. Dogs are such ideal companions for most people. The list of things therapy dogs can do is simply amazing.

  4. HarryS

    Wonder why God gave a puppy and a body temperature of 100°F?
    Is happiness a warm puppy? 🙂

    • Harry, I didn’t realize that about puppies but they are definitely little bundles of happiness!

  5. I had two dogs in my life. And they always provided an unbiased ear and an unsolicited comforting lick on the cheek.

    • Alan, I am glad you had dogs. I think everyone should be able to have at least one or two in a lifetime. There’s no friend quite like a good dog.

  6. Julia, Happy Grand Parents day to you and Jeff! 🙂

    • Thank you! I had not even realized it was Grandparents Day. 😀

  7. Oh, dog, schmog. I had a CAT, named Oliver … 🙂
    I’m teasing a bit, but you know Oliver was a great cat. Granted, he never protected me from bears, but he seemed to know when I needed a hug (I was in my stormy teen years at the time) and would come to me and let me cry on him. So patient. So soggy. (Not a favorite for cats; perhaps he was actually a cat-shaped-dog – that meowed!)
    Good Ol’ Oliver. Even the neighbor kids knew him. Some younger neighborhood kids saw us crossing the street to the river one day (Oliver was walking a respectable and aloof distance from me) and I heard one boy on his bicycle call to his friends “Hey, look! It’s Oliver! Hi Oliver!” Obviously they’d spent some time with Oliver, who wore a collar and tags, which is how they’d have known his name.
    It made me proud to know that I had such a cool and popular cat. 🙂

    • Susan, I love cats too! My most beloved childhood pets were cats. We had a mama calico cat who was such a sweetheart. We would end up keeping the kittens we couldn’t find homes for and at one time we had SIX cats! So I can easily believe that Oliver was as special as you say. My sister’s husband says that their cat, Kit Kat (who is featured in last year’s post) “is the best dog I could ever have.” 😀 My younger brother’s cat, Mr. Kitty, is a very sweet and affectionate cat too. I’ve found that, though most of us have a preference for one or the other, there are plenty of people around who love both dogs AND cats. Animals are wonderful gifts that add so much joy to our lives!

      • That’s great! My dad once had a cat named Shep. (After George of the Jungle’s elephant, I believe)

        • Shep! That’s a great name for a cat! Wow, I think I can remember that elephant being mentioned in the song from George of the Jungle. One of my favorite things about friends’ pets is all the cute names for them. There is a chocolate lab in our York neighborhood named Nestle, which seems perfect for her.

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: