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What is Love? - 1/13/13
I saw a cute saying on a plaque in a gift shop once; "Lord, help me to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am". I thought it was a nice sentiment, but it got me wondering. Just what kind of person would my dog want me to be?
Now naturally what MY dog would want is for me to stay home all day and do nothing but feed her, scratch her tummy and play Kong! But seriously, how can we be the best "person" for our dog? "Well, by loving them, of course!" you might say, thinking it's pretty obvious, but really, what does that mean?
There are two words that hold hands in my mind, Love and Responsibility. They look to me like the Yin/Yang symbol, both blending one into the other. Love's the light one, the easy one. Love is cuddles and games of fetch, doggy treats and car rides. The responsibility side is harder. Dark, not because it's bad but because it's serious.
For example, what if your dog is overweight? Then maybe doggy treats aren't Love at all. Maybe treats are ruining his health. Responsibility here would be a good quality dog food portioned out according to his needs. Let the "treat" be the tummy rub or game of tug.
Maybe your dog is afraid of the vet or the groomer. Should you not take her there then? Responsibility means making sure she is healthy, so here it would be keeping her up to date on vaccinations, having her teeth cleaned and doing heartworm checks. Grooming is important to her health too, to keep her ears clean, her nails trimmed and her hair clean and free of mats. If she is afraid, you would try to train her or desensitize her so she feels better about going to the vet or groomer.
Love is a trip to the park or a friend's house. Responsibility is teaching him to walk calmly on a leash, not jumping on people and being housebroken so he is welcome everywhere. Love is a fun car ride; Responsibility is protecting him in a carrier or safety harness so he doesn't get injured if there is an accident.
Responsibility isn't a bummer. It's what keeps your dog safe and healthy to enjoy many years of Love together. A fence. A leash. A kennel. They aren't restrictions, they're freedom, because a healthy, well-behaved dog can go with you more often to more fun places, and not only will you Love her, so will everyone.