Sunday, January 12, 2014

"Dogs make us better people. That's what I believe." - Silas House

Unlike Terry Staley, who resolved to be nicer and drink fewer Diet Cokes (pledges that lasted almost two days), I didn't even pretend to set new year's goals for 2014. I would rather drink nothing but water for the rest of my life than run another marathon; securing a certain amount in a savings account by the end of the year makes my 15 cats and 3 dogs laugh; since I have blueberry bagels with my coffee every morning and frozen cool whip topped with cookies, cake, or candy every night, losing weight seems unlikely. I guess, generally speaking, I just want to be more creative, work harder, and think of others more. 
A few pet-themed suggestions on the creativity front...
1. Poetry can invoke eye rolls. Poetry can be intimidating. Poetry can be really damn hard to write.  Nevertheless, poetry can also be fun. Have someone give you an opening line, then you add one, then back to the other person, etc.  Tag team your next poem. Lee and I did this one last fall.
To love a dog is to be parent of a child who never learns to speak, each need assumed from squeals and small dances deciphered,
dances that to the untrained eye seem gibberish in motion, but as subtle as Vegas neon to the doting maker of homemade dog treats.
To love a cat you must first admit you are its pet, and always ready when they are accepting affection;
for you see, even the most adoring of felines is prone to play the cowboy that rides away, not the corseted woman with an unfortunate namesake.
For them to love each other is more common than cartoons would have us believe, though Garfield and Odie are pretty spot on.
Whether it is the cat's instinctual inclination toward indifference or the pup's incessant hunt for new playmates makes no difference;
as long as they rally around the same bipedal, they are family, and may tease one another to reinforce that fact,
"tease" occasionally evidenced in a good ol' paw swipe to the nose or WWF take-down in the grass, neither performed in malice or spandex.
A bit of stolen kibble or an overzealous tongue bath may be the first shot in these short-lived feuds,
feuds ended by an inevitable truce born and bred of sibling love and a shared giant pillow.
They never grow up, always quick to tap into that inner kitten or pup, and deserve more years than nature gifts them;
for in a fair world, those most inclined to forgive and equally unlikely to disappoint, would be memoralizing us in poem instead.
2. Vow to actually make some of the things on your Pinterest boards before you pin anything else.
Very professional and well-written instructions: Cut board however long you want it (mine were about 12"). Paint paw print wherever you think it looks good. Buy coat hanger/leash hanger and edged wall mount at Brown's Supply and screw in. While at Brown's, also get that metal ring thing that I think has something to do with a radiator. Get tiny screws and attach unknown metal ring to board by bending the slats a bit with a flathead screwdriver and screwing in. Tighten the ring so that it snugly holds a mason jar. Fill with dog treats. Hang on wall by dog entry/exit. 
3. Read everyday, even if it's just an say, this one (includes're going to love his voice), from my one day husband, Silas House. 

"The Knowing" as featured in the This I Believe anthology
(This really does make me think of Waffle, Lucy, Willie, and Charley).

"I believe that if more people were like dogs, we’d all be a whole lot happier.

My dogs make me a better person just by being themselves. They don’t care about what color I am, or whom I love, or my religion, or any of the other ridiculous things that separate us as people. They only care that I am kind to them and others. That’s what should matter.

My dogs also know that giving and receiving affection are the most important things in life. Yes, eating is right up there, too. But I believe that if my dogs had to choose between lying still in a patch of sunshine while I sat beside them on the grass giving their bellies a good rub or devouring a meal of the same dog food they get every single day of their lives . . . well, I truly believe they’d choose the loving, despite their genuine devotion to gobbling down their kibble as if they might never have another morsel of food offered to them in their whole lives.

When they offer themselves up to receive adulation, they cause me to become still, to remember that most things actually can wait a few more minutes to get done because this moment right here, this moment of sitting beneath the trees with their swaying limbs, the sun warm on my face, the scent of the creek down in the woods, the birdcall in the deepest parts of those woods, and the holy world (all of it holy, every single bit of it) shimmering all about me, this moment is what life is about.

Having a dog—or any pet—makes us better people. They force us to slow down (each time I return home I have to spend a few minutes patting the belly of our outside dog, Rufus, because he’ll lie down on the driveway on his back, right in my way as I’m rushing to the door; I can’t refuse that and I often fold myself down onto the ground with grocery bags standing all around us to give him some loving), to pay more attention, to be kinder (especially to Pepper, who came from an abusive household before ours, and carries all of that grief in his eyes, in his damaged back, in his wariness), to give and receive affection, to be patient (especially on days when Holly Marie just doesn’t really feel like going to the bathroom anytime quick), to love and love and love.

Writers aren’t supposed to throw that word around much. We’re supposed to be stingy with putting that on the page. But it is necessary when talking about dogs because that’s what they embody. They remind us, time and time again, of the most important thing. Such a shame that we actually forget that. But we do.

I know that some people think it’s a sin to think an animal has a soul, but I do. I don’t care what anyone says or thinks. Because if anything in this world is close to God, it’s a dog. I believe a great amount of being in touch with God is required to hear the thunder from way off, or to feel the trembling of a train miles away, or to know when someone they care about needs them, and offer comfort no matter what, and not have one tiny bit of judgment in their whole beings. I believe a sort of holiness is required to remind us that everything in this world deserves affection. Dogs know these things. They know and know and know.

Dogs make us better people. That’s what I believe."


  1. Oh how I love this post. So much. YES dogs do make us better people and yes poetry is amazing :)

  2. Since your comment was so nice, I will excuse the fact that you did not include Love Actually on your top 5 Christmas movies list. :) Thanks for reading and I've really enjoyed what I've seen of your blog so far. Oh, and I love the tag name (I was sitting here thinking, "Who in the world do I know that would sign that 'Optimistic Existentialist'?")...and Elf is a solid second.