A few minutes ago I finished reading Sigrid Nunez’s beautiful novel The Friend (more about it can be found here).

I still am choked up in tears from reading it. It strikes close to home, and it triggered reflections about my best past and present canine friends.

Curious David Redux: Here are some of my earlier reflections about dogs who taught me lessons. As the biped protagonist in Nunez’s novel comments to Apollo, the Great Dane, “Remember, I’m only human. I’m nowhere as sharp as you are.”

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Dogplay2 (1)

Reflections:

Today I am “dog-tired”–it was a three dog night yesterday as we celebrated a birthday with dear friends.

Several summers ago I was humbled at how much I have yet to learn about teaching and about learning. A friend Mary directed her  beloved, devoted blind Newfoundland Ernie to “rescue” me by, on command, swimming out to a rowboat where I feigned being in distress.

Blind Ernie

I was saved as he towed me back guided only by the loving voice of Mary.

Reflections: It has been 6 months since Robin the Newf left my life. She leaves me with many fond memories and enduring lessons about patience, love, persistence, forgiveness, coping with pain, loyalty, and playfulness.

New parents

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Her successor, Leo the Great, already is reminding me of all those lessons and, in his own way, offering me new things to learn.

Leo2

 

Leo1

Reflections: Robin and Glenn the Big Dog and Mollie the Golden Retriever and Queenie and Duchess and Snapper and Freud and Leo have made me laugh and cry, exhausted and rejuvenated me, and constantly pointed out to me the frailties of being a human. My father-in-law, Walter G. Schmidt deep love of dogs was extolled in his eulogy given by the Reverend Charles Valenti-Heine:

…”And that world, for Walter, included his beloved Canines. Lucy, Canis, Oaf, Chaucer, Trollope, and Freud, the last-named because Walter was told that the companionship of a good dog was of greater worth to people than any other therapy! The one time I remember Walter speaking in church was when Trollope died, and he stood up during joys and concerns to opine: ‘If there is a place in heaven for Presbyterians, then surely there is a place for greyhounds.’

I have had many dog role models both real and fictionalized. As I child I fondly remember Mr. Peabody and his seven-year-old sidekick, Sherman. I am attracted to the nonsense of dog cartoons in the same way that my dogs are attracted to scents.  Though many of my friends claim I behave more like Scott Adams’ cartoon character Dilbert, I have often learned from the philosophies of his character  Dogbert and from Snoopy.

Rudyard Kipling  and Lord Byron have warned us of how dogs can capture your heart! Dogs continue to teach me so much! Some day soon I hope to be their full-time student.

Robin

 

Do dogs match their owners in physical appearance? in personality? There is an interesting body of research dealing with these questions. Under what circumstances does pet ownership reduce stress? increase it? Why in the world did I spend $250 tonight on pet treats? Perhaps I still am affected by my first reading of Argos‘ blind enduring faith. Robin, the patient gentle giant, knows.

Here is some anecdotal evidence provided by one of my playful students that owners like me (though there was sometimes confusion between Robin and me and, presently, Leo and me as to who is the owner) may start looking like their dogs!

Newfed

 

 

 

 

Posted by Professor David Simpson

Professor of Psychology, Carroll University (USA), Lover of Dogs, Reading, Teaching and Learning. Looking for ways to enhance cross-global communication and to apply technology learning tools. Interested in brain health maintenance, brain fitness training, and truth in advertising.

2 Comments

  1. David , this is so true. We have lost our sweet Ginger this winter. As I told Dick as she began to fail, the only thing that will get me through this is knowing a puppy is on the way. After being without our girl since February, we are all atwitter about the next week. The day is almost upon us, when as we have done before, we will bring home a new baby on April 23. Scared and empty we hope that Sophie will help to heal a bit of us that has been missing. Wish us well as we embark on our new journey. Life without a companion has not been fun! Hoping for better happy days. Miss seeing you friend!

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  2. From one dog lover to another…Thank you for your wonderful celebration of that special interspecis relationship The happens when you fall in love. I have Sammie an 8 year old golden rescue and Bella 3 year old lab, golden rottie who’s owner died last.

    Always look forward to going home to the two of them. Bark Box is due today. A highlight watching them explore new toys and treats. I like dogs better than people! Thanks for the chance for me to talk about one of my favorite things! Dogs! Kathy Bates

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