For whomever believes in God, you must also believe that those who save the loving creatures we call dogs from shelters are doing His work. After all, we were taught, most of us, that God loves us and wants us to love our neighbor and other living creatures. St. John wrote in the Bible of God saying, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Well now, are dogs not our best friends? I should think so. They have often been known to lay down their lives to protect us. Dogs teach us the greatest lesson of unconditional love. Unless they’ve been trained otherwise and suffered abuse in some way, dogs are the most loyal and loving creatures on earth. I’ve even been fortunate enough to have my girls (a/k/a dogs) know their healing powers. Nine months after the tragic death of my late husband by suicide, I rescued two dogs from a No Kill Sanctuary. Their soulful eyes empathize when we are in pain; their playful antics lift our spirits when nothing else can, and their fierce loyalty provides the safety, security and dependability that no human can.
Dogs teach us unconditional love in a myriad of ways. They even teach us to love ourselves again unconditionally when our four-legged friends bounce back to self-love even after being scolded for misbehaving. They don’t carry shame and embarrassment for chasing the cat, chewing a favorite shoe or pooping in the neighbor’s yard.
And dogs don’t hold grudges when we arrive home late and offer their dinner even later, or miss a scheduled walk. They run up to us with wagging tails, nudging us playfully for affection and give those puppy dog stares so lovingly. No need for forgiveness there as they haven’t judged us in the first place. And they certainly don’t care that we as humans come with our specific flaws. They forgive us.
They serve to teach us again what we learned as children, that being the importance of amusement, fun and play. And they taught me specifically how to forget my anger, feelings of guilt and despair.
Scientists have discovered that animals have healing powers. When you stroke a cat or pet a dog, you experience a surge of healing hormones and chemicals that produce feelings of peace and serenity. [Edward T. Creagan, M.D. – a Mayo Clinic oncologist.]
In a feature article on WebMD, Jeanie Lerche Davis writes that playing with a pet may elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, lower cholesterol levels and increase immune function.
It has also been found that just petting and stroking an animal can help lower blood pressure and calm the heart rate. This is because simply petting a dog, you can lower the stress and worries of the world. And all that dog wants in return is love.
A short while ago, I had a bad night for some reason. Often my tears just begin on their own and I’ve no way of stopping those waterworks. My little baby as I call her, Casey, is deaf so she could not hear me and had been fast asleep at my feet as were my other two girls. She rose up suddenly, I imagine sensing my drastic mood change, and stared into my eyes for the longest time and watched those tears stream down my cheeks. Then she brought her face close to mine and began softly licking the tears. So softly she did this as though she were dabbing with a tissue. And she didn’t stop until I was able to stop my crying. As abruptly as she stopped, she stared at me again for a while and then brought her face up against mine. She knew just how I was feeling and wanted me to know, it was going to be okay. And she was right.
Words cannot express the love, peace and joy that my three girls have brought to my life. In losing my husband tragically, I was given precious blessings in the form of three little white dogs who have been instrumental in decreasing my depression and PTSD.
If you’re suffering from depression or PTSD or other emotional problem, I urge you to give it a try. Granted it’s an important responsibility and I suggest beginning with one dog. (I have three dogs for reasons I’ll explain another time.) You get love, affection, companionship, as well as a sense of worth and purpose, all wrapped up in a sweet furry little package. What more could you ask for?