We all know that dogs are awesome. They give so much to us and ask so little in return, just ample petting and attention, toys and amusements, and, of course, most important of all, food and treats. The following are my top 10 reasons why I love dogs, with some examples from my family’s own canine companions over the years.
1. They have empathy.
Dogs can tell when someone is hurting and, in many cases, will try to help any way they can, even if they don’t always know the person. I remember when I’d just lost my dog, Reedy, and my mother and I stopped at a restaurant to get some lunch. I didn’t have much appetite and had a hard time ordering anything until the restaurant owner’s dog came over to see me. She sat down on my feet and did her best to make me feel better, allowing me to eventually find something to eat. In another instance, I was upset and a perfect stranger’s springer spaniel came running over to snuggle with me and try to make me feel better. Dogs truly are amazing in this respect.
2. They are loyal.
Dogs are very loyal to their people and will do anything to be with them. Some dogs have gone as far as staying beside their owner’s grave after they have passed. Others have traveled hundreds of miles to find their people after being separated somehow. I can always remember how excited Cyclone was to see me after he’d been lost in a storm for eleven days. Though the staff at the vet’s office was very kind to him and provided him with food, he howled and dragged at his leash when he saw me coming. He knew who his person was.
3. They are protective.
Not only are dogs loyal to their people, they are also very protective of them. They are willing to lay down their lives, especially for children. I know of one dog in Florida who stood between a poisonous snake and his human baby, taking the hit to save her. (Yes, he was fine after some anti-venom treatment.) Dogs also have a danger sense that allows them to detect a threat, even if the target of this sense gives no obvious outward signs of trouble. My parents’ dog, Harry, was usually friendly with everyone but disliked one man who worked with my father. The man eventually ended up ripping off Dad. After this point, they always listened when one of our dogs told them something was wrong with someone.
4. They have a good sense of humor.
Dogs clearly find various things humorous. Just watch a fail video where a dog is present. They always run over to check on the person involved with the fail, then wag their tails and take a play stance. If this doesn’t represent laughter in a dog, I don’t know what does. They have also been known to come up with their own pranks. My sister’s dog, Lady, once pranked my mother’s fox terrier, Quentin. The terrier was jumping between Lady and a hole in the back deck left open due to some home improvements. She very gradually stepped forward, inching closer to the hole until Quentin flew right into it and went down. Of course he was fine, but Lady was standing at the top of the deck wagging her tail and panting.
5. They have a good understanding of words.
Some dogs are better at this than others, but most dogs can understand simple commands, as well as their name and various nicknames. Harry, for example, understood the concept of whispering and the command “Harry, protect!” A few dogs understand a rather complicated and unusual vocabulary. Reedy, for example, knew the names of all his dozens of toys and could bring me a specific toy when asked without any other prompting. Lady knew the names of her toys, but she also knew how to count to ten and how to count objects.
6. They have amazing senses of smell and hearing.
Dogs can hear high frequency sounds ranging above 25,000 hertz, which is above the average human hearing range. (Unless you’re me. I’m a weirdo for a reason.) Their noses are also much more keen than the human nose. Tracking dogs can pick up a scent trail from a simple article of clothing and follow it for miles on the ground. Some dogs can detect cancer or other diseases in a patient based entirely on scent. Both dogs’ sharp hearing and sense of smell are employed in search and rescue operations, where sometimes the only way to detect a person is by the slightest sound or scent.
7. They are police officers.
Speaking of dogs sense of smell and their protective nature, both are utilized by police departments all over the world, where dogs actually hold rank and receive full police honors. Though they are probably most known for chasing down the bad guys, there are many other ways in which dogs serve law enforcement. Dogs are used as drug detectors, tracking down hidden stashes of contraband. They are often employed by airport security to sniff out weapons and potential explosive devices. As stated in our last paragraph, dogs are also used by police for search and rescue, especially the traditional bloodhound.
8. They assist the disabled.
There are an amazing array of jobs for helper dogs, who come in all breeds and sizes. Traditionally there are the seeing eye dogs, who assist the blind with day-to-day tasks and serve as eyes for their people. We also have hearing dogs for the deaf, dogs who assist paralytics, and seizure and diabetes detection dogs. Others provide support for wounded veterans and victims of PTSD. The jobs that these incredible dogs fill are endless!
9. They have fought in wars.
Dogs have been aiding soldiers in battle since at least World War I, where they served as messengers and sentries. They also saved many lives in Vietnam, where they were employed to detect deadly booby traps in the jungle. And dogs are still deployed with human soldiers today to detect bombs and other hazards. Some even parachute into combat zones with their people! A fallen military dogs receives full honors upon burial, and in a few cases they have been buried with their human partners.
10. They’ve been with humans for millennia.
One of our oldest domesticated animals, dogs were living with humans in the very earliest days. A Siberian puppy grave was recently dated at 25,000 years old, just to give you an idea of how long dogs have been with us. They likely began hanging around because we provided them with easy food that they didn’t have to hunt for and just sort of got used to being there. Dogs then began living with humans and things just snowballed from there. Eventually we began selectively breeding dogs for various purposes, making the species very much adapted to the human race.
There is so much more I could’ve covered because dogs are amazing animals, but this article would be way too long and probably take multiple posts just to discuss everything. I can say that one of the worst points in my life was the short time I didn’t have a dog by my side. They are incredible at making our lives better, providing love, support, and companionship for millions of people. Here’s to decades more of dogs in the Weirdo household. And hopefully yours, my good reader!