Unconditional love.

All animals are special. They teach us about caring, love and unwavering loyalty. And whether your pet is a dog, a cat, a rabbit or a turtle, when you look into their eyes you know you’ve got a friend.

For as long as I can remember, I have always had a dog by my side. In the good times and the bad and everything in between, our dogs have possessed qualities that we as humans can learn a lot from.

I wrote this when my best friend and dog, Suzy passed away. Writing was the only way I was able to say goodbye to her and to let her know the gifts and the lessons she had given me in her 14 years:

“A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbol mean nothing to them. A waterlogged stick will do just fine. A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give her your heart and she will give you hers.”

How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?

It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what doesn’t.

As I write and reflect on this today, it makes you realise what could be right there in front of you and your family, if only you opened your eyes. Sometimes it takes a dog like Suzy with bad breath, anti social behaviour, and pure intentions to help us see the good things in life. No matter the weather, the day or the mood, a dog’s continual happiness and zest for life is enough to turn your bad day into good or your good day even brighter.

When it was time to say goodbye to Suzy, our three-month old boisterous black fur ball Labrador, Lulah simply lay down next to her. That moment was unlike anything you can describe. To me it was as if the elder in the family was passing everything down to the new addition knowing that we would be loved, looked after and protected. Suzy knew it was ok to leave this earth just as much as Lulah knew how big the shoes were that she had to fill.

I may be reading into this more than what I need to but that is who I am. I seek meaning in order to find the answers we may need in our lives to feel a sense of contentment and pleasure in what we do and who we surround ourselves with.

We take great pride in the term “man’s best friend”. The single truth to it is that regardless of whether your dog is a designer breed, a purebred or a rescue dog from the pound, every dog deserves the love and sense of belonging to a family. Give them your love and they will be your best friend for life.

Dogs know, learn and experience a vast degree more than what we give them credit for. Their minds are quite simply extraordinary.Those of us in society who choose to starve, neglect, and beat these animals are undeserving of our respect and forgiveness. I believe that the increase in unprovoked dog attacks in New Zealand has nothing to do with the dog’s breed or natural instinct but rather how a dog is brought up and treated in society. You reap what you sow essentially. While blame automatically lies with the dog, it is important to also take into consideration the environment and quality of life the dog lives in. A dog reflects its owner and I have always trusted my dogs with my life unconditionally.

You will find that a dog’s needs are simple and each one’s personalities are fascinating. Our dog Lulah is incredibly emotional and sensitive, she loves walks not to mention other dogs. Her idea of the perfect holiday consists of a trip to the local boarding kennels of which she would stay there forever if she could choose at times. In comparison, our dog Suzy had no time for other dogs, her idea of the perfect day would be snuggled up right next to my Mum’s feet with the idea of boarding kennels sending her into a panicked and depressed state. That is the beauty of it however, no two dogs are the same and it brings great wonder to the world when you experience things dogs are capable of that make you laugh, smile, cry or scream at.

Bonds like these are incredibly hard to break and let go of so don’t take them for granted and always appreciate the joys a dog can give you.

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