MARY READY: On treating one another like dogs

Mary Ready, Ready or Not

With apologies to the Pooch Scoop columnist, P.A.  DeFrenza, (who does it way better), this is my bi-annual article with a canine theme. Well, sometimes tri-annual.

I like dogs. Mine, yours, anybody’s.

And I wasn’t offended when a new acquaintance said to me, “If my dog doesn’t like you, neither will I.” When Frank was under hospice care, there was one nurse that Bogie (my Yorkie) couldn’t tolerate. He circled Frank’s bed, barking and growling under his breath and getting in between the nurse and Frank during the entire visit. Later, we found out the nurse was fired for “undisclosed reasons.”

We can learn a lot from dogs. What they would have us know is good advice for how we should treat them AND each other:

1. Don’t ignore me for too long. At best, I only live for a few years. It seems like forever when you’re away from me. And I can’t bear the thought you may die before me and leave me alone. 

2. Take me to new places to meet friendly people and animals. I might be shy around them or frightened at first, but if you hold my paw through new experiences, I’ll become more confident and trusting of others. I really do want to love those you love.

3. Don’t ignore me when new family members arrive. They’re my family too and I will love and protect them. 

4. Don’t get mad at me when I jump up on you. I love you so much and sometimes I can’t help getting excited when I haven’t seen you all day.

5. Share new things with me. I love making you happy so teach me what you’d like me to do. Sofas are comfy, but the park means fun with you.

6. Don’t get frustrated and give up on me. I don’t always understand why you’re upset with me. Be patient and give me time to understand what you want because I want to please you.

7. Don’t take out your stress on me. No matter how bad your day, I’m always happy to see you and do whatever I can to make you feel better. Don’t push me away when I’m trying to cheer you up.

8. Comfort me when I’m scared. I always feel better when I’m with you, but it may take a while before I understand that thunder and vacuum cleaners won’t hurt me.

9. No matter how busy you are, try to spend some quality time with me every day. I look forward to it, and every minute means so much to me.

10. I trust you with all my heart, so please trust me too. You mean the world to me.

11. Don’t be angry with me for too long. It wastes the short time we have with each other.

12. Talk to me. I may not understand your words, but I understand your tone and body language, and I  love to hear your voice.

13. Always treat me with kindness. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.

14. Please don’t hit me. Remember that I have teeth that could easily hurt you, but I choose not to bite you because I love you. If I did something wrong, I didn’t mean to make you angry, so please help me understand how not to repeat it. I would much rather give you big, sloppy kisses.

15. Praise me whenever I’ve done something right. Nothing in the world makes me happier. I can tell when you’re pleased with me, and you can bet your life that I will try to do it again. And again, and again, and again …

16. Pay attention to me if I’m not being myself. Before you scold me for being a “bad dog,” please check to see if something’s wrong with me. My heart may be getting old, I may be unwell, or I could be in pain.

17. Take care of me when I get old, just as you did when I was a puppy. Back then, you’d spend time stroking my soft fur. My fur is not so soft now, and I’m no longer small, but my love for you has only grown stronger. 


18. Come with me on that last, difficult journey. I understand it’s hard for you, but please stay with me until the very end. It will be easier for me if you are with me. Remember, I’ve always loved you.

Perhaps not all of this canine wisdom has human application, but many of us would be much better off if the people we loved treated us like we should treat our dogs.

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.