Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms. ~ George Eliot
It's been nearly four years since the passing of Sage, my blind Springer Spaniel, and it's been less than two months since Cody, my cocker spaniel, died. I still miss both dogs. Each was a devoted friend, a faithful companion. Dogs are noted as faithful friends to humankind, often being called "man's best friend." Many news stories recount the dedication dogs have for their people, even for strangers. Those who alert humans to seizures, fire and other dangers; those who protect people from intruders; those who travel great distances to be reunited with their human family, and those that save people from drowning and avalanches – we learn about such stories nearly every day. Cats and dogs are used as therapy, serving in hospitals, nursing homes, and counseling centers. Loyalty is inherent in the gift of a four-footed friend.
People could, and should, take lessons from pets in the subject of loyalty. Adultery, lack of romantic commitment, fizzling of friendship, embezzlement, bullying -- all of these negative character traits, among so many others, speak to the nasty side of humankind; these attitudes and actions are not displayed in our furry companions.
What bonds a pet to a person? People are the caregivers of their pets, feeding, exercising, playing, petting, lounging; we are the guardians. The more one positively interacts with their pet, the stronger the bond, just as the longer one befriends a person the deeper the dedication to that friendship. And yet, we humans can turn on each other in the blink of an eye.
When Sage and Cody were alive, if I was gone on a business trip for several days, my dogs would follow me everywhere upon my return. Our dog Mary waits in a chair that's beside the front door, and the minute my husband or I walk in, being gone for part of the day to work, she greets us with a little happy dance ... and one of her favorite toys. Our pets' desire to be with us speaks volumes about their bond to us.
We can learn a lot from our pets, including a great lesson in loyalty. Broken relationships, greed, selfishness and other negative characteristics often found in humans are rarely seen in pets. There’s a saying that goes, “May I become the person my dogs thinks I am.” That plaque hangs on my wall and it's a great reminder to aspire to be exactly that -- the person my pets think I am, the good person they see in and bring out in me.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.