*Most* dogs do at least one thing better than *most* humans: love. While usually not a fan of generalizations or stereotypes, I make an exception in this case. Of course, every dog is unique and every human is unique. I’m so grateful that I have been blessed with dogs that have helped me heal from hurts caused by humans.
My dogs love me because they love, not because of what I do or who I am. When friends and family turn me away, my dog wants nothing more than to lick my face (and eat of course).
I was put up for adoption one month before my 3rd birthday. For years, I placed the blame on myself. I decided that it was that little toddler’s fault that she had been rejected. This irrational thought process shaped my attitude towards family and friends long after I became an adult. I believed that I was the cause of the pain of my experience, and that I needed to keep everyone at a distance in order to prevent my flawed personality from eventually causing their rejection of me. I was wrong.
My home is full. I have 4 beautiful children, one sarcastic husband, a handful of goldfish, and 2 lab mixes that don’t have any clue that they weigh 75 pounds each. We haven’t always had dogs. When my husband and I first got together, we had a single cat. Cats are easier to care for and there’s nothing wrong with having them, but they do not love you. They love themselves. A study from Japan revealed that cats can recognize their names and their owner’s voices, and they simply choose to ignore you.
I’ve never seen a dog that didn’t get excitable when I spoke in its general direction. When I say a word even close to my dog’s name, he runs to me and says, “Mom, mom, mom, mom, pet me, give me a treat, are you okay, you need licks.” My dogs are more excited to see me when I come home than my own flesh and blood. They make me feel good! They don’t care if I’m dirty or sweaty. They don’t care if I wear makeup or fix my hair. They don’t care if I yell or whisper. They simply love me. It’s their nature.
We know dogs are pack animals. Community is hardwired into them. In the wild, wolves do not survive well alone. Dogs need family and they seek your approval. Some of the most vicious dogs are simply doing what they’re been trained to do because deep down, they just want to make their alpha happy. I don’t have many humans in my life that want nothing more than my happiness. As much as my husband loves me, I know that he must look out for his own happiness as well. My dogs are made happy by making me happy. Our relationship drips with mutualism, and I can’t get enough.
Every child deserves a dog, and I’d argue that adopted children need them. Now, that’s just my opinion, but I believe I’m right.
Let children see that a creature will be happy with them regardless of what they say or do. Let them get that into their hearts before the world teaches them that acceptance is performance based.
I did not and do not cause my abandonment. I may be rejected, but if I can learn that my value is not tied to how people treat me, I can understand rejection as simply an opportunity for growth. I have value because the Creator of the universe made me. It’s really a simple idea. I can do many things or not do many things, but what I am worth is tied to my very existence. I would not exist if there wasn’t a purpose to my existence.
My ability to love others is better evidence of my existence, and therefore my value, than the love others have for me.
My dogs help me to remember this because they love regardless of their surroundings. They choose to love. I can choose to love, and because of that choice, I can allow myself to be loved. Love flows in spite of actions.
Upon realizing this, I can state with certainty:
- Was NOT my fault. I had nothing to do with the decision.
- Was NOT the worst event in my life. It actually afforded me opportunities I otherwise would not have had.
- Was NOT done out of lack of love. I believe my birth mother acted out of fear, but that she honestly believed she was doing the best she could for her daughter.
- IS part of who I am. I wouldn’t have my husband or children if I had been raised any other way.
- IS a beautiful blessing. My mom and dad couldn’t have biological children of their own.
- IS a lesson. I am honored that I can empathize and help others because of what I’ve experienced.
I want you to feel good about yourself. You have value. If being around dogs helps you to feel love and share love and feel joy, then by all means, go pet some dogs. I choose to accept myself the way I’m created and to grow in this life as God allows. I’m going to enjoy every moment that I can.
Please go visit an animal shelter.
Our local shelter goes above and beyond to serve the community. Shelters are often understaffed and volunteers are underappreciated. You can donate your time or deliver supplies like dog food, cat food and litter.
They appreciate you!