What’s so great about dogs? That’s a tough one because there are just so many things! Most people can tell you in an instant whether they are a “cat person” or a “dog person.” If I’m being completely honest, my reaction to this question is usually instinctively “cat person” – but that’s not quite true for me, I love all animals.
Often people who identify as cat people love that cats are relatively quiet, somewhat independent (that, quite frankly, all depends on the cat), small, tidy, and easy to make arrangements for when vacationing or travelling for work. These same people may not like dogs because they tend to tie you down a little in terms of travel, are often larger, messier, and louder than cats, and they require a great deal of attention.
Does that make dogs a less appealing pet to you? I hope not. Personally, I firmly believe the idea that dogs are too good for us. I’ve always had a soft spot for dogs, despite leaning towards cats on the “binary.” Growing up as an only child, I had a dog I was convinced was my brother – maybe not biologically, but we played and fought like siblings. He was my protector, confidant, and best friend. We moved a lot when I was young, and he was there for me when few others were.
Before I got married, my partner was unequivocally not a dog person. Not even remotely. Partly because of the reasons I mentioned above, and partly just because of a lack of exposure, dogs were a firm “no” in our home. I’m happy to say that now we are proud parents to a canine furbaby – our second as a couple – and I’m far from being the only one who is smitten with the pup.
So what makes dogs so great? I enlisted my spouse’s help for this list, as I was curious as to the answers that someone who had not always loved dogs might come up with. I wasn’t disappointed – I think the list is better than any I myself might have come up with, and I’ll share it with you now.
What’s So Great About Dogs?
The way they smell
Different breeds of dog have different distinctive odors. Hounds, for example, have a different smell from collies or border collies – who have a different smell from dachshunds – who have a different smell from poodles, etc. There is something about that smell – not the smell of wet dog, or bad dog breath, but the smell of a dog when you bury your face in their fur and inhale deeply. It’s a smell I wish I could bottle, so that when I’m at work and missing my pupper I could take a quick sniff of her fur and smile.
The way they lick away your tears
Dogs seem to instinctively know when we need them – physically or emotionally. They can sense stress, anger, excitement, and grief, and try to get themselves in to where they can be involved as much as possible. Growing up, my dog would come running from wherever he was the moment he heard me crying, and would press up next to me as hard as he could. He would let me hug him and run my fingers through his fur, soaking him with teardrops and probably drool (I was a kid, and besides – he had drooled on me a few times too). Our current pup can turn tears to laughter with her frantic and insistent licking of your face – often inadvertently (I think?) sticking her tongue up your nose in the process.
The way they smile when they scratch, and the way you can subdue a hundred-pound beast with a cookie the size of a quarter
Dogs understand simple joys in a way humans don’t seem to be able to. They bask in the sun, chase a stick or a ball for hours, and react to things with the unbridled emotion that we’ve had conditioned out of us. When dogs scratch an itch, they get a look of pure joy and relief on their face. If you scratch a spot they love, they will lean into you and look at you adoringly. They will happily show enthusiasm over the same food day in and day out, and will turn themselves inside out for a favorite treat. They aren’t always seeking something more, something bigger – they are just happy to be happy.
The way they try to sit when you come home, but they can’t because their butt is wiggling too hard
There is nothing that can make a tough day better than coming home to someone who is genuinely happy to see you. Dogs don’t hide feelings well, and they don’t pretend. They also don’t have conditions or expectations. When you get home, your dog’s reaction is honest and enthusiastic, and it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been gone – five minutes, five hours, or five days – they will be so excited to see you when you get home!
The way they have to be touching you
Dogs love to be near us. Part of it is a throwback to their pack days and huddling together for warmth and safety, but part of it is definitely more than that. My current pup hates to have her feet touched, and yet she will reach out and rest her paw on your arm or your lap while she naps. She will lay her head on your knee, or press her back into you while she sleeps. My childhood dog would stretch out across the back seat of the car and press his paws into my leg (at the time I thought he was trying to irritate me – looking back now over to those 30 years ago, I can see he wasn’t).
Dogs are better than us in so many ways – a list of reasons could span textbooks – but their unconditional love and gratitude makes them perfect companions. You won’t likely ever find a better friend.