An ode to the dog

An ode to the dog

If you wish to experience true and unconditional love, you should get yourself a dog. According to the American Kennel Club, there are 199 breeds globally; therefore, there is the right match waiting for you, considering that you are a dog lover. I never owned a cat or other pet, so I am not entitled to talk about their company’s benefits. But I grew up with two German shepherds, and I am now a proud owner of one, so I can confidently talk about dogs.

There is plenty of research-based evidence on the advantages of living with a fluffy friend; I will certainly not bother you with them. However, I feel the need to share my personal experience, thoughts, and feelings about cohabitating with my dog, Winston.

Having shared my childhood with two unforgettable German shepherds, one of which lived for sixteen whole years, I always knew I wanted a dog in my life at some point. I did not want to be impulsive with the grave decision to share life with a dog as an adult who has the full responsibility of a living soul. I was patient and waited for the right timing in my life when I could properly support this significant decision. 

By right timing, I mean stable income, a flat whose owner allows dogs and, most importantly, readiness for total commitment. When the pandemic broke out and the authorities implemented the first lockdown, I realised that the right moment had arrived. Many people had a similar thought, considering the number of dog adoptions during the pandemic. Lacking personal dog experience, my husband was not tremendously keen on the idea of a pet dog. Naturally, he voiced numerous concerns about the size of our then apartment, the time we spent at work, costs for food and vets, what to do when travelling etc. All fair worries indeed. But I had made up my mind, and it was only a matter of time for him to be convinced – mainly because I was brainwashing him with irresistibly cute puppy photos. And also because he eventually saw the light himself.

Christoph fell in love with Winston immediately. He dedicated a significant chunk of his free time to the dog’s training, reinforcement of the commands and play-dates with other dogs for socialisation. He still does and does not consider it a sacrifice of his spare time but rather quality time with our dog. It is what one naturally does when they love someone immensely, isn’t it? 

We got our Winston on a cold and drizzling Saturday of

September, a week prior to our wedding. He was then eight

weeks old and tiny.

I am not going to lie; the first weeks were challenging and strenuous with little sleep, as we had to take him out every two hours for his toilet, lots of cleaning and disinfecting -for when he did not make it outside for his toilet. Many vet appointments followed up, and a vast amount of stress on our side regarding the puppy’s food -too much, too little, what kind and when? Or about his sleeping habits. Or everything. It was a brand-new situation with which we were unfamiliar but hell-bent on succeeding. Despite all the challenges and worries, we held no second thoughts.

Nevertheless and despite all the stress to keep this puppy alive and growing, our main concern was when to return home to see and cuddle him. My heart was throbbing while rushing back home to meet him again, hug and stroke him endlessly. There are not enough words to describe Winston’s happiness for seeing us again.  

This is the magical thing about dogs: they are always thrilled to see you, even if you have been away for five minutes. Time is irrelevant to them. They will never greet you in a grumpy, indifferent, anxious, sad, tired way as we humans do. They are forever and always overjoyed by your presence. You show them love once, and they return it to you eternally. 

I cannot imagine my life without Winston. As a matter of fact, I wonder how I went on living all these years without him; no offence to my husband, who, besides, feels the same. Winston is my safe place. He offers me love, compassion and kindness without asking them back. He expects nothing in return but love and care from me. And these I have plenty for him. 

When I feel poorly and in bed for longer than usual, Winston is worried and gently barks at me to force me to get up and move. When I lie on the bed or sofa, he is there by my side. He follows me everywhere around the flat, seeking my company and offering me his. I can barely be away from him for more than half a day. Winston is funny, silly, lazy, hyperactive, always hungry, playful, calm, and a teaser. This dog is everything I could wish for and even more.

Winston has taught me patience, empathy and kindness. He has shown me a kind of love that one can feel only a few times in their life. This extraordinary dog appeases my soul; he is the source of positive energy I need in my home and life. Winston offers me a vital dose of daily laughs and good vibes. 

People say that we do not deserve dogs. On the contrary, I believe we do for they teach us – ironically-humanity, selfishness, benevolence and graciousness. Dogs help us reveal our beautiful side while absorbing the darkness in our lives. 

I only wish dogs lived longer. But I find comfort in believing that they are like angels; they come into our lives to take care of us and teach us love, and when they feel their job is done, they magically pass in eternity.

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