Let me tell you what I think: It’s a dog’s world, we just feed them

Teresa Sheffield

If all dogs go to heaven, Mother Teresa and Gandhi have a lot of tennis balls to throw.

Dogs are man’s best friend, and a socialite’s best accessory. Author Susan Kennedy called them, “Miracles with paws,” and screenwriter Corey Ford said, “Properly trained, a man can be dog’s best friend.”

And well-trained we are, if there’s anything Americans love, it’s our dogs.

“Children and dogs are as necessary to the welfare of the country as Wall Street and the railroads,” Harry Truman once said.

According to The New York Times, Americans spent a record $55 billion on pets last year. That’s more than the gross domestic product of all but 64 countries. According to the Humane Society, 78 million of those pets are dogs, with almost 40 percent of American households owning at least one dog.

I recently joined those statistics and adopted a stray dachshund named Donaghy. Despite any trouble he gets into, Donaghy is probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while, and he is definitely worth the exorbitant apartment pet deposit I still have yet to pay.

Getting him potty trained hasn’t been easy, though. I’ve cleaned up more stains than Billy Mays, and I’ve scrubbed my carpet to the point where I’m convinced that if all dogs go to heaven, hell must be located directly beneath it and must be shaped like a giant fire hydrant.

Donaghy and I have come to an understanding though.

He doesn’t poop in the house, and I get to walk him around my neighborhood at 3 AM. I’m also convinced that having a dog with you is the only time dithering around at such an hour doesn’t make you look like a pervert or a criminal.

Being a dog owner is like being in a social club. There is a camaraderie that exists between dog owners that rivals the Free Masons. I don’t know what it is, but when you see other people with their dogs, you are obliged to talk to them, let your dogs meet, and find out about each other’s lives.

Also, call me a bad person, but when someone whips out their wallet to show pictures, if given a choice between seeing a picture of a kid in a holiday sweater or a little doggie in that same sweater, I would choose the latter.

No matter who you are, dogs will love you blindly and unconditionally.

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself,” American humorist Josh Billings said.

If the great equalizer of the afterlife is death, then dogs are the great equalizers of the living. They have no concept of rich or poor and black or white, and love you regardless.

They’re the only creatures I know who can get kings and presidents onto the ground to incoherently coo at them.

And for good reason, let’s face it no one will ever greet you like a dog does. You could be gone for seven years as a prisoner of war or just walk outside to get the mail. Either way, it will invoke happiness of seizuric proportions.

“If you can look at a dog and not feel vicarious excitement and affection, you must be a cat,” an unknown author said.

When you ask people about their childhood dog, oftentimes their countenance and demeanor soften, their eyes get glossy, and they look off into the distance, smiling as they recall memories of their canine friend.

Dogs touch our lives so completely and so selflessly. Author J.R. Ackerley said, “A dog has one aim in life, to bestow his heart.”

Like a teacher who learns more from her students or a philanthropist who has earned more from giving than working, I’ve realized that there is no amount of belly rubs or Purina I can bestow upon my dog that gives him as much as he’s given me.

I guess all I can do is say his two favorite words: “Good dog.”

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