Dear Illy,

Illy

Guilty as charged: I love my dog. I assume most people love their dogs as well, but I can prove that my dog Illy is the best dog in the world. Having joined our family when only eight weeks old and six pounds in weight, she is now nine and a half years old and our sixty-two-pound bundle of joy.

But I deviate!

My real purpose in writing this piece is to share my occasional thoughts as I walk my dog (well over 10,000 times so far) and look at her as another living creature on this third planet of a humble star. It is also to stimulate some discussion on how others see and even talk to their dogs, which I view as infinitely better than talking about sequestration all the time. I will also admit to being a trained scientist who has been exposed to such strange concepts as evolution (which I believe in), global warming and climate change (which I also believe in), and aliens (which I would like to believe in), and therefore I may be biased in forming my judgments, but here goes anyway.

I see a creature with two eyes, two ears, a mouth, a tongue, four limbs, a heart, lungs, and other internal organs that I have as well. My scientific sense tells me that this dog and I are related, distantly perhaps, but related nevertheless, and that it is only the vagaries of genetic mutation over very long time spans (more than I can comprehend) that accounts for our differences and differences with other living species.

I will also admit to talking to my dog, not because I believe she can fully understand what I am saying (although I believe she tries very hard to do so) but because she clearly has a brain that learns words, observes and records behavioral patterns, records smells, and thinks about things in her own way. My best example of her ‘thinking’ is when I walk her at night and ask her where she would like to stroll and she hesitates, looks around, and after a bit of what I would call cogitating, heads off in one of her favorite directions (she has four). Talking to her also makes me feel better about getting her to do things which she may not want to do (like going home when it’s cool outside) and I insist. All in all, I feel satisfied and she seems to usually get the message.

Breed: Akita and German Shepherd

Dear Care Bear,

Care Bear

You are my heart on four paws. The first couple of years where ruff. You were, and still kind of are, a high energy dog and it made things difficult for the first few years–but we worked through it together! I found out how scary it was to love someone so much that it hurt. I almost lost you and it scared me in a way I’ve never been scared before. The thought of losing you is too much for me to handle. You are such a great dog, and I am so lucky to have you in my life! You basically house-trained yourself and were never really destructive (except when you used to hide chewed things under my pillow like I wouldn’t find it–but that only lasted a month). Your intelligence outweighs most people. Your facial expressions alone speak to how smart you are. You are so handsome that people stop to tell me so, and your kind soul shines out–stopping people in their tracks. You like to talk to me and anyone who will give you the time of day. Over the past six years, you have grown into a sweet, loving, and regal gentleman. You like to sit your 70 lb. self in my lap and you know I’m your girl and you’re my little boy. Nothing compares to the joy you bring to me. You are my alarm clock each and every morning. Waking up to your smiling face and your big brown eyes every morning brings joy that lasts throughout my whole day. Even though you are bossy and spoiled, you keep me laughing all day long. I wouldn’t change a thing!

Breed: German Shepherd/Black Lab

Dear Maximus, my handsome boy, my little gentleman,

The day I walked into the shelter, I had wanted to find the perfect dog for daddy as a gift when he came home from Afghanistan and to keep me company while he was away. Little did I know you were meant for me. That day I had walked up and down all the aisles of the shelter, I loved all the dogs and wanted to take them all home, but there you were the only dog that wasn’t barking or jumping. Instead you were curled up in the corner of the kennel looking as if you had lost all hope and at that moment my heart broke for you. I asked to have you taken out so I could take a better look at you and they took us into a meeting room and you immediately jumped into my lap! (you were a big boy even for a pup). I wrapped my arms around you and you pushed yourself into my hug, right then I cupped your little face in my hands and I said you’re coming home with me and you never have to worry again, I will never leave you. The next day after a trip to the vets office you were ready to come home.

You have brought nothing but COMPLETE joy to my life, you have saved me from extreme loniness when daddy is away on deployments, always more than happy to cuddle, except and give back hugs, you have been my big protector with your courage, large manly bark and only barking when you need to. Your sweet tender eyes have so much love, your such an excellent calm boy and everyone loves your tempermant. Thank you for always following me everywhere..literally everywhere even to the bathroom, at least I know im never alone. You give Daddy, Grandma and Grandpa such relief to know I’m not alone. I always have a friend and a protector…you and I have a special bond that only some are blessed enough to encounter in their life time. You truly are my best friend Maximus aka my sweet little gentleman.

Breed: German shep mix