How Would Life Be Without Dogs?

I understand people who decide they don’t have the time or space to properly care for a dog, but I don’t understand people who don’t love dogs. I know someone who was chased by a large rabid dog as a child who always felt a little scared around them, but even he eventually had a dog that was his best friend.

I have a good friend who studies the relationship between humans and canines. One of the central ideas of his research is that what makes dogs special is not their intelligence, but their singular ability to connect with humans—in other words, their capacity for love. I always laugh when someone says, “We humans don’t deserve dogs.”

As a kid, my family always had a dog, usually a terrier of one kind or another. Several came to unfortunate ends, one by accidental poisoning, another struck by a car. Those losses hit hard because those were not just family pets, they were my companions. One of my greatest pleasures as a parent is to see how meaningful our two dogs have been in the lives of my daughters—a gift that my dog-loving mother passed on to me. It’s hard to overstate how central our dogs have been in deepening family togetherness, first Baxter (a very chill spaniel) when the girls were small and now Hazel (a very spirited beagle). Sometimes my daughters talk with each other about the dogs they want for their own homes at some point in the future.

If you’re a dog owner or a dog lover, can you imagine a world without these beautiful creatures? Put differently: How important have dogs been in your life or the life of your family? And for the record, maybe you want to pay homage to your cat or another family pet. I’m all for it; the world always needs more love, no matter the species.

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Note: Yes, the lead art here is a recent picture of Hazel.