My wife and I have two dogs -- a Rottweiler/Lab mix, named Bauer, and a German shepherd, named Bailey -- and they are a big responsibility. We walk them, feed them, clean out their eye gunk and spend time with them every day. They are like children, only fuzzier.
Although they never say it, I am certain that they love me. I know this because they constantly show me.
When I arrive at the house, they race to the door and wag their tails to greet me. If I am down at eye level with them, they will try desperately to lick whatever part of my face they can get their tongues on. They also prefer my company to almost anyone else's. (Bauer, at times, can be a bit of a mama's boy.)
My dogs are very good at showing me that they appreciate all the early mornings, the late nights and the hours I spend every day taking care of them. What is somewhat mind-boggling is that though dogs are good at showing appreciation, sometimes human beings, despite being able to talk, are not.
So often, people get bummed out or even depressed because they do not feel appreciated.
Friendships can sour because one friend doesn't feel as though the other friend appreciates him or her enough. Employees will leave jobs if they feel as though their boss does not recognize all their hard work. Resentment can build in romantic relationships or even marriages when one party senses that his or her partner does not recognize his or her sacrifices.
Fortunately for dog owners, we do not have that problem when it comes to our four-legged-friends.
My dogs will never judge me for wearing an ill-fitting polo shirt. My dogs will never talk behind my back (or at all). My dogs will never get offended by an offhand comment that I might make.
On the other hand, my dogs will let me watch as much football as I want on Sundays (provided they have been adequately walked). My dogs let me finish an entire sleeve of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies in one sitting. My dogs will even try to join me in the bathroom because they cannot stand the thought of being without me for a few minutes.
I am not suggesting that we start following our significant others to the toilet, but I am suggesting that we take a look at what our dogs do so well that makes us know that they love and appreciate us.
Because dogs cannot talk, every sign of communication must come from an action. This simple concept is something that dogs understand but that human beings do not always get.
In the human world, there are plenty of clich?d phrases to express this concept: "Well done is better than well said." "Actions speaker louder than words." "Don't tell me; show me."
Maybe that's the problem. We have phrases and words to rationalize and explain this concept, but we do not think about how we actualize it.
In fact, a common sentiment expressed by mourners at funerals is regret that they did not tell the departed enough how much they meant to them. If dogs attended funerals, I don't think they would have that problem.
Most dogs would know that they did everything they could, every day, to show the people in their lives how much they meant to them; no words needed. They did it with their actions, and that was enough.
"Man's best friend" is a title that is earned, not given. Through their actions, dogs give us one of the most important satisfactions that anyone could hope for: acceptance.