There are times when I am extremely grateful to have a dog. Okay, wrong, I am extremely grateful to have a dog ALL the time. I am pretty sure that if you have a dog, you would probably know why. I think they are one of God’s most beautiful creations and also proof that He exists. My dog has taught me so much too. He probably doesn’t even realise how lovely he is, or how much he has helped us, so we (my family and I) do our very best to let him know how special he is. He is really smart though, so maybe he does know! If he does, he is the most humble creature ever.
I have a Golden Retriever who I named Pogo. We got him on the 2nd of October in 2015. I never got too close to puppies or dogs before I met Pogo, so I was nervous to have a puppy at home with me all the time. I remember my hands shaking a lot, but everything changed when little Pogo gently licked my fingers and wagged his little tail. I was not scared anymore. I guess I was kind of stupid too, why exactly was I scared of a puppy with little to no teeth?! We spent quite some time petting and cuddling with him. However, we were all very anxious if we would be able to take care of him well as he was so delicate! I did do some research on certain things like how we should keep him comfortable, how to keep him clean, what he could eat, what he could NOT eat and how to train a dog. Though I was slightly out of my comfort zone, I could handle him quite well. So the first thing that Pogo did teach me, right off the bat, is that some research beforehand does pay off. I knew what I was doing and I was very happy to be a good caretaker. My family helped a lot too, we were all involved and so excited to have a cute, fluffy new member!
The very next night, I got my second lesson- things will always not be perfect. My poor Pogo was vomiting for some unknown reason, and that terrified me! I just kept thinking- ‘What is happening? Why is this happening? HOW is this happening?!’ I had never seen a puppy vomit before too! The sound was really scaring me. I kept thinking about what we did and I thought I did something wrong somewhere. I cried my lungs out! It was so difficult for me to believe that Pogo could be unwell, ever- and it’s so silly, because it is the most normal thing! People and animals do feel unwell from time to time. I guess I just never wanted to see Pogo suffer in ANY way. Also, that taught something really important too- that how easily I could love someone…in just one day! And I have no issue with it. Love is the greatest gift.
Eventually we all became very accustomed to Pogo, so we got the hang of how to communicate effectively with him. However, since he was still a puppy, it took a little while to teach him where to do his ‘business’. Now, this is where Pogo taught me that life can be surprising! This is how- I told Pogo that if he ever wanted to go and pee, he could tell me by staring at me. I was not serious about it- if you have a dog, it’s quite normal to say things like that. You do not really expect a puppy to actually listen and cooperate- so we say things like that and only hope for the best. Surprisingly, the best did happen! Pogo immediately listened and stared at me whenever he wanted to go out! I was taken aback…it really got me thinking how a puppy could comprehend what I said and actually do that! That particular moment, where Pogo started to stare at me whenever he needed me, really taught me that things like this really could happen and it’s not always only in story books. I know this part might seem silly, but to me it was very special. Every moment with Pogo is very special to me.
The next thing that Pogo taught me is that disciplining and scolding someone you care about is not bad. I have read numerous times in different places that dogs actually like it if their owner tells them what is good and scold them if they do something bad. If we do not do that, they will feel like we do not care about them! I notice that if I don’t tell Pogo anything when he is walking (because there is no problem at that moment), he doesn’t seem too happy. He feels like I am not paying enough attention to him. If he feels that way, he runs and tries to do something bad on purpose, like sniff something dirty- just so that I scold him and prevent him from eating it. He loves that. I see that when he learns something like a new trick or a command, he is very happy when we acknowledge it. He also listens when we tell him not to do something because he knows that we would never want him to get hurt or suffer in any way. If someone cares, they will try to help us. Parents are a prime example of this. They are grossly misunderstood in a lot of cases by their children. However, the approach matters too, of course. I am sure Pogo will not like if I keep scolding him all the time, right? I usually scold him after I tell him to stop politely a couple of times.
The loveliest thing Pogo has ever taught me is unconditional love, and that there are plenty of ways to express love without constantly saying ‘I love you’ constantly. I love doing things for Pogo, even though I know he will never be able to look after me the same way. I love buying him toys, even though he plays with them for a few seconds and immediately gets bored. I love waking up at 2 AM so that I can take him outside so he could do his business. I know he loves us all for everything we do for him. He has his ways of showing it- Pogo waits for us at the stairs. If we pet him a lot, he lightly licks our hand as a ‘thank you’. He also wants our touch- if I am standing, he always goes around in a circle and makes sure that his hip is on my foot when he lies down. I always wish Pogo could talk to us, but he says so much without uttering a single word!
I could, of course, go on and on about Pogo, because he is so precious to me. However, I did want to express how much a dog can teach us, if we allow ourselves to open up to him/her. Communication is so important, but so is observation. Just like how dogs observe us and our movements, we should do the same for our beloved pets because they really have a lot to say. Pets will change your view on life and love, and I can very confidently say that we are extremely blessed to have them. What did we ever do to deserve them?