Daze of My Life: The Tail That Wags This Dog

Daze of My Life
The Tail That Wags This Dog

What can I learn from my golden retriever, Bailey, if anything? I can learn loyalty and devotion, especially to those who feed, water and are nice to me by scratching and rubbing me.
I can learn that eating the same food day in and day out can be just as appetizing and nourishing as eating a varied diet.
I can learn that the simple things in life--like having a tennis ball in your mouth (for Bailey, anyhow) or digging up the yard with your front paws or gnawing on a stick thrown by your owner/master--can be the most entertaining and stimulating part of the day.
I can learn that coming when called can be a very rewarding experience, and that not having an ego to interfere with such commands hardly makes for a disappointing result. Obedience can be a good thing. What's the harm in responding to, and respecting your fellow being? In addition, I can learn that knowing your physical limitations, like whether or not climbing stairs is worth the effort, or even doable at this middle age, might likely help minimize stress on your joints and strain on your brain. And I can also learn that sitting or laying down close and making bodily contact with the people whom you love and who love you can be a simple and sincere, and much appreciated non verbal gesture of love and affection.
I can learn that routine--waking, eating, working, playing, going to the bathroom and sleeping, etc.--can be a good thing and can likewise lead to a more predictable and pleasant end of the day or week. I can learn that hearing unfamiliar sounds, however far in the distance, either during the day or in the evening, are causes for concern. Things do go bump in the night, and sometimes bang, crash, crack, slam are not the sounds of silence but rather the sounds of intruders and the type of trouble one would prefer not experience. Therefore, being alert and extra sensitive to such noise as well as less intrusive ones (in your home) like sirens, gunfire, explosions, firecrackers, lightning, transformers blowing, etc. is similarly well-intended.
And mostly what I can learn from my dog--and from watching reruns of the classic movie, "The Wizard of Oz"--is that there's no place like home. Bailey is free to roam our neighborhood, approximately 10 acres-plus. He is unteathered, unsupervised and not invisible-fenced in. Certainly he is collared but he's not transmitting. And of course, he is dog-tagged with our name and phone number, but he is otherwise free of any other encumbrances (or identifiable marks) and yet, he always comes home and always wags his tail at the sight or sound of his parents. And as happy as he is to see us, we are just as happy to see him. I guess being home matters to him. Apparently, we've learned the same lessons.

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.