Some friends of mine recently had to put down their beloved dog.
They had two dogs, but tragically one died over the summer and this one was a senior and had developed hip problems that caused her pain.
Putting her down was the right thing to do, but it was a hard thing to do.
I have had several dogs over the years and as every pet owner knows, they are more than just an animal.
They become members of the family, companions and friends.
They are always happy to see you, they don't care how much money you make or what your social status is.
Sure they may eat their own vomit once in a while, but dogs love you for you and that makes them invaluable.
Some people take having a dog to the next level, buying them clothes and even jewelry. Yup, I have seen doggie necklaces – not to be confused with a collar – and other forms of bling people adorn their hounds with.
We had to buy our current mutt, Murphy the Wonder Dog, a sweater to keep him warm in the winter. It was for practical reasons because he has short, fine hair and shivers and shakes all winter, but he still wants to go for a walk every day.
I will never dress a dog up just because it makes then look cute. God already made them look cute, so spending my hard-earned money on fancy duds to make my dog look dapper is unnecessary.
But to each their own I guess. If you want to spend money on doggie clothes, go ahead. Who am I to judge?
I will also never - ever - share an ice cream cone with a dog as I have seen people do on more than one occasion. I have seen what dogs lick and the things they are willing to eat, so any food I am eating will never come in contact with a dog's tongue – ever.
They may get a few leftovers now and then, but there is no way I would ever directly share my food.
Disgusting dietary habits aside, dogs do have a way of working their way into your heart. Some people do not like dogs and will never know the joy of owning one.
I call those people weird. Who could not like a dog? They are the only animal on earth who cares more about you than they do themselves. History is filled with stories of dogs committing heroic acts to save the life of their master or others in need.
And they are doing this while the cat sits by and watches without so much as a meow. Now, before the cat huggers get their dander up, there are a few (very rare) occasions where a cat has actually come to the aid of a person, but I suspect they are more concerned about losing their meal ticket than the well being of their owner.
Anyway, cat comments aside, dogs really are man's best friend. They are loyal, faithful and can always be counted on.
Sure they bark, leave little doggie land mines all over the backyard and have been known to chew things they were not supposed to, but their unconditional companionship makes it all worth while.
That is why I felt so bad for my friends who lost both of their loyal friends in such a short period of time.
They still have a couple cats, but we all know it is just not the same. They gave their dogs a good life with plenty of space to run around in, a nearby river to swim in, healthy food and were cared for as well as any animal could hope for.
The dogs lived a long, full life, but their passing is still a heartbreak for their people.
Copyright 2014 Darren Handschuh