• Bill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 3-25-22 – Things I Have Learned from My Dog


“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went.” ― Will Rogers


I agree with Will Rogers. I used to attribute the quote, “the more I get to know people, the more I love my dog” to him, but it seems to be a big controversy with no clear author. No offense to readers here, I do think that the average dog is a way better person than the average person. They are unconditional love in a bundle of fur, with four paws and a wet nose. What could be better than that? This gratitude Friday is a reflection on one pup, Mr. Tweaks.


There is such a huge variation in dog breeds and mixes. Mr. Tweaks is half Jack Russell, half German Shepard—a Jack-Shepard. And he is arguably the finest example of “the breed.” He certainly thinks so, and don’t you dare call him a mutt! We don’t care, but he does. He is part of our family. Dogs and people are connected in a way that no two other species of animals are connected. The bones of the Bon-Oberkassel dog who lived 15,000 years ago show that there has been a special bond between humans and canines for thousands of years. The dog bones were found with the skeletons of two humans. They were together—two species, one pack. There is no other animal so connected to us in human history.

They have evolved to please us; this article talks about how they have developed muscles around the eyes to be more pleasing to humans. As far as I can tell, this is true. Our dogs can tell us things with their eyes. They have a superpower of heart-melting as far as I am concerned. We also know that dogs are our oldest companions—we have been hanging out since before the end of the last ice age. I know that I want to have dog energy around me to the end of my days.


Mr. Tweaks is easily the most expensive dog we ever have had. He has regular and surprise bills. He comes with medication costs. He has a discerning palate with the need for a varied diet. He has a penchant for dog toys and treats (more on that later). He also has earns his keep. He has also taught me a thing or two about life.


Some of those lessons:


Squeak the monkey like there's no tomorrow – All squeaky toys in our abode are Monkeys, probably because of an early one being a stuffed monkey. Nothing brings him joy like squeaking one. He squeaks them even when he thinks we're not around. It just brings him immense joy. Getting a new monkey will keep him happy for weeks. He thinks that every bag or parcel coming into the house may be harboring a new monkey. The sound of a squeaky toy is one of the best sounds ever in my book. It cuts through even the heaviest of days. Sometimes, you just have to squeak the monkey.

Smile often – Please do not claim that dogs don’t smile. They do. This one smiles nearly all the time. He does not wake up grumpy. He wakes up, smiles, eats his cheerios (all dog kibble is cheerios in the Lexicon of Mr. Tweaks) and scampers into the day with a grin from large ear to large ear. He keeps his sunny disposition nearly constantly. Be a happy puppy.

Take care of your pack – When we are having a rough day, he knows it. He also has a unique ability to heal. He jumps up in your lap, bows his head forward so that his forehead can press against your forehead—and presses in with his whole body. He will stay there until he senses your mood improve. It works nearly every time. If this does not work, he will run around the house, grab and then toss monkeys at you until you smile. Support your own peeps.


Fly your freak flag – No question about it, with pictorial evidence here—Mr. Tweaks is a freak. He does not care what anyone thinks. He knows what he is and what he likes. I think it is the Jack Russell in him. Something to emulate.


Never give up – He is half German Shepard. They use the breed for search and rescue for good reason. He knows of a stuffed toy in a cabinet in my office that has been there since 2011. He cries at that cabinet all the time still to this day. And if there is an ice cube in visual proximity, he is on it until it is his. He has tenacity well above his punching weight! Keep going!


Don’t Hold Grudges – He may grouse at me if I accidentally step on a paw, but he is quick to forgive. A good way to live.


Roll with the Challenges – He was diagnosed with Addison’s disease at age three. Our vet saved his life just in the nick of time. Since then, Mr. Tweaks endures monthly vet visits for shots. He also had a toe (driver's side rear) amputated because of carcinoma four years ago. He is still here, but no carcinoma. He whimpered the morning after his amputation in a way that ripped at my heart, but then he was right back to being a happy puppy. One with several lives, no grudges, and a constant smile. Every day is a blank slate.


Forgive me this missive on a dog. I learn a lot about life from dogs. I am grateful for them. I am grateful our species converged to support each other many thousand of years ago. This one, as expensive as he is, is worth his weight in gold to me. I am grateful for him. Dogs rule.

What are you grateful for today?


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