Sharing the Love Of Dogs with the Non-Dog Lovers in Your Life
by Lynn Stacy-Smith
When I think about the people with whom I surround myself, I think that about 90% of them are diehard animal lovers. My parents, my grandparents, my husband, my kids all love all types of animals. I credit both Mom and Dad with my love of dogs and other animals, the outdoors and the planet as a whole. As for friends, I just gravitate toward animal lovers because of common interests, the same way any of us make friends as adults outside of work or our neighbors.
As a result, when I find myself in a conversation with someone in my life who is not a dog lover, and when they say something that goes completely against everything in which I believe, I find myself completely shocked. How could someone who I like and respect feel so negatively about something about which I am so passionate, something to which I have dedicated not just my entire profession but also my heart and soul?
Unfortunately a scenario like that happened yesterday when I read someone’s social media post that let me know that they most definitely viewed dogs as lesser beings than humans. We interacted briefly, equally offended by the other, and I departed the conversation quickly as it would have been futile for either of us to continue. I don’t like arguing with people, but when it comes to animals I will not stay quiet, I will speak my mind.
My dogs are part of my family. Period. I love them. I love humans, too. I cannot and will not try to differentiate the type of love, except for my husband and that is a unique kind of love and relationship.
In my opinion, to say that one group is more worthy of love than another is not how the heart works. It is not how humanity works. The heart can expand to hold multiple species, it can expand to love many people and many animals. My heart hurts when people are treated poorly, when children are treated poorly, when dogs are treated poorly, and when all animals are treated poorly. I don’t want anyone to suffer.
I sometimes hear non-dog people say, “Geez, you treat your dogs better than some people treat their kids!” That is not what was said yesterday, but that statement still bothers me because it feeds into the notion that dogs and other animals are not worthy of being treated equally well as humans. And that notion promotes the fact that dogs are disposable, that they are not forever family members, and that mindset ultimately contributes to the vast numbers of them being put to death in shelters every year.
In my book, Love, Laugh, Woof: A Guide to Being Your Dog’s Forever Owner, I talk a lot about the concept of treating our dogs like dogs rather than furry children in order to honor your dog and give her what she needs to thrive as a dog. I stress the important concept that different does not mean lesser. To love your dog like a dog instead of a small furry human never means that you should love her less, it simply means that they have different needs in terms of how they learn, what mental and physical exercise they need to be happy, and how they communicate.
Am I treating my dogs too well by providing organic, alkaline, single protein, grain-free food? Am I treating them too well because I work hard to keep carcinogens out of their lives? Am I somehow demeaning the life of a human by loving my dog so much, by taking so many precautions to keep them safe? Am I harming a human because I want my dogs to be happy and healthy and safe? Of course not! In fact many of the causes about which I am passionate for dogs also help children, like educating people on the chemicals they use on their lawns and in their homes and raising funds and awareness for canine cancer research which usually takes place in the form of comparative oncology programs that benefit humans and dogs.
Loving a dog takes nothing away from humans or from children. In fact there are childcare experts who state that having a dog helps children develop better self esteem, acquire better motor skills, and even do better in school. Loving a dog adds a beauty and grace to the world and to humanity and promotes more love. There is no limit to kindness, no limit to love, no limit to philanthropy, no limit to positivity.
I have had two friends who are not dog lovers tell me the same thing, which is that I have helped them understand why people love their dogs so much. That is a tremendous compliment and makes me happy to have helped dogs as a species in that way. I respect both of these women because they both have said no to getting dogs of their own despite the pleas of others in their households because they know the responsiblity involved in having a dog and they know what is fair and what is not fair to the dog when you take on that role.
I know that I will continue to share the love of dogs with everyone who will listen. I will continue to promote that we are forever owners to forever dogs in their forever homes. I encourage you to do the same thing, so share your love of dogs with your dog lover friends and non-dog lover friends alike, to share the notion that every dog should be a forever dog in a forever home to a forever human. The more we promote the fact that dogs are living, breathing, feeling creatures, the more we help combat the notion of a dog as disposable or less than worthy of a lifetime of care and love.