Since moving to Washington, I've been financing my mountain photography addiction by working at a private dog boarding facility. This article is the first (I hope) of many to generate from my experiences there.
If you ask a dog lover why they love dogs, you'll get an astounding variety of answers. Some folks love the cute fluffy factor, or training a dog and having a working relationship, or just having a warm buddy to snuggle with. I love dogs for a different reason: Dogs do not lie. They simply cannot conceal their thoughts and emotions. In the bearing of their tails, hackles, ears, eyes, and mouths, they constantly and absolutely communicate every shade of anger, fear, desire, hope, trust, and above all, love. Dogs love with an complete abandon that humans don't feel outside of fantasy stories. They suppress nothing, they give themselves to us completely and without hesitation or shame. This is their gift to us, and even though humans have been breeding dogs to do this for hundreds of years, we owe it to them to repay their selfless love with safety, security, and our own love.
Tonight I was once again reminded of the price we pay for the gift dogs give us. Because they give so wholly, so intensely, they can't maintain forever. They burn so brightly that they flash through their fuel, and are gone from our lives like sparks. Our price is to outlive them. To watch them die, love and trust in their eyes till the very last. And we, as humans, know this from the beginning, we see the whole glowing arc of a dogs life within our own. To them, our life spans are like the universe's is to us: it existed before us, and will exist after us, and we cannot comprehend it. They don't know that we've had and loved other dogs before them, and will probably have more after them. Our price, which we pay gladly, is accepting the void they will eventually leave in our lives. The exchange is in our favor, as we can be our most flawed, our most selfish, our least respectable around our dogs. In their eyes, we are always bright, shining beacons of trust and respect. As the saying goes, “Strive to be the person your dog thinks you are”.
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