Woman’s Best Friend

Back in my college days, usually when I would go home for the extended break over Christmas, my old high school friends and I had a tradition. We would always gather at the trendiest coffee spot and spend hours catching up. There was nothing better than sitting around a cozy table in that dim and pleasant atmosphere, cups of coffee warming our hands and enjoying long awaited conversation on a chilly winter night.

Being new to adulthood and on the cusp of independence, our conversations almost always bordered on the deep and intellectual. Looking back, when you enter college life and have a whole new way of viewing things, your interpretation of the world is often idealistic. All part of growing up and finding your way.

I remember one cold December night vividly. One of us asked a question and we went around the table, everyone getting their chance to answer.  There were no wrong or right answers. Just an appreciation for good conversation and a chance to ponder.

At the head of the table my old high school friend asked, “what is humankind’s greatest achievement?”

We all thought for a moment, and of course the typical answers came up.  The invention of electricity, the automobile or the airplane.  Space travel.  The creation of penicillin. But on this night I really didn’t go with the flow. Yes, all of those things are worthy of such a distinction, really more than words can ever say. But my answer was a bit different, and I stood by it one thousand percent.

When it was my turn, I looked around and answered matter-of-factly.

 “Domesticating the dog.”

They all looked at me.  At first I didn’t think my answer resonated. Not that it would have mattered. I knew how I felt. But I could see the thought on their faces, and then their understanding and appreciation. Smiles and agreement spread around the table. I unwittingly had come up with the best answer that night.  Not that it was the goal. I just spoke from my heart.

When I thought about my answer, it went beyond the love and companionship dogs provide. I can’t think of another animal that guides the blind and assists countless others with other types of challenges.  Nor can I come up with another animal that finds humans in danger under the snow of an avalanche or the rubble of a fallen building.  I also can’t think of another animal that can detect cancer or assist law enforcement with their sense of smell.  Or that can do the work of a dozen people on a farm, and do so with gusto. There is no distinction between work and play.  Our lives often depend on them.  More than we will ever know or appreciate.

I can’t begin to express how much my two canine babies mean to me. They quiet my mind. They provide love when I often feel completely alone and unlovable. I have been challenged in the last decade with failing health, and my emotions and confidence have been dreadfully shaken.  But they are always there. Reminding me of what’s important.  And how they love having me for a mommy.

I may have saved them, but really it was they who saved me. And I am forever grateful.


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