Human beings are proud of the fact that we are the highest life form on the planet. But before we get too smug about our superior intellect and ability to innovate, let’s pause to acknowledge that we can learn a lot from other species. Especially about love … and especially from the species canis lupus familiaris, also known as the domesticated dog.
Dogs aren’t called “man’s best friend” for nothing, since they give and receive love in a way that can teach their human counterparts plenty. Such as:
1. Loyalty is the most powerful way to demonstrate love. The number one quality in dogs should also be the number one quality in people.
2. Puppy love is great, but real love deepens over time. Energetic, cute puppies may get all the oohs and aahs, but a wise, white-muzzled dog is cherished with a deeper kind of love.
3. A positive approach to life is always attractive. As the bumper sticker says, “Wag more, bark less.”
4. Unleash the one you love. Holding on too tightly will stifle independence and the freedom to grow.
5. Boundaries help to avoid conflicts. Dogs protect their space and, yes, mark their territory to ward off would-be intruders. Lovers also know that healthy boundaries create healthy relationships.
6. Different species can learn to communicate quite well. If dogs and humans can develop communication skills through nonverbals, intonation, and gestures, then surely men and women (who sometimes seem like different species) can also learn to communicate effectively.
7. Life is a journey to be savored. You’ve seen the sheer joy on a dog’s face while its head is sticking out of the car window. That’s the way life is meant to be lived!
8. Circle around the bed as many times as necessary before settling in. Take your time—there’s no hurry.
9. Holding grudges does no good. Whether an insult involves harsh words spoken in frustration or a forgotten meal, dogs never nurture resentment. They are quick to move on, just as people should be.
10. Be comfortable in your own skin. Whether a Best-in-Show blue ribbon winner or a scrawny mutt from the pound, dogs are perfectly happy to be who they are. People should be too.
11. When you’re feeling happy, go ahead and let the world know it. Why hold back your joyful feelings? Jump, roll on the grass, run around the yard.
12. Love freely and unconditionally. You don’t have to meet a set of criteria or measure up to particular standards to be loved by your pooch—and you shouldn’t have to in order to be loved by your partner either.
13. Express your needs clearly. Our canine friends let us know when they are hungry, want to play together, and desire a belly rub. Human partners should also state their needs and not make the other person guess.
14. It’s okay to be domesticated, so long as you stay a little bit wild. Dogs may be trained and tamed, but they retain a bit of the wolf instinct that emerges every now and then. Lovers, too, should take a walk on the wild side once in awhile. Surprise your partner!
15. Always greet your partner enthusiastically. Dogs wait by the door and then give kisses when their person arrives. Human loves should do the same, whether they’ve been together one month or fifty years.
What has your pet taught you about love?