A dog trait that deserves attention
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about four characteristics dogs are better at than people. It seems that the piece struck the right note with many of you because we have received a pile of positive comments.
Here are a few examples:
"Dr Dobias....that was a beautiful article. I would like to add one more trait..."Forgiving". Dogs are very forgiving. Even when we have a bad day or come home grumpy, they never take things personally...always ready to forgive and love us unconditionally." - Simrren Kaur
"You hit the nail on the head in more ways than one. Thank you for speaking your truth and trying to bring awareness to so many." - Pat Grzeskowiak
"Wonderful article, and I agree that forgiving and offering unconditional love are other traits dogs exhibit....we can all learn how to live and let live from not only our dog companions but other animals." - Susan J. Schenck
"Thank you for your newsletter, your insight, your integrity and your heart that is full of truth and compassion for all you do! We are sincerely grateful. I wanted to send this simple email to express my truth and the depth of love we feel for our dog, our animal companions and the abundance this amazing earth provides us. Our wish is that more people in society will wake up to an awareness of this and it is people like you that help along this journey. Thank you!" - Trish & Rick Spilker
I must say, comments like these make me humbled, happy and charged up to write more! It is clear you and I are alike in so many ways. I also like that some of you reminded me to mention the fifth and very important quality of dogs and that is unconditional love. Of course, I should have put it in the original article! I completely agree this characteristic definitely deserves to be on the list!
I often think about dogs’ ability to love despite some of them being physically abused. It is rare for a human to forgive on such a level, and it is also rare for dogs not to forgive their people.
A possible explanation could be that dogs simply evolved this way, but I think there is more to it. Look at cats; they benefit from the alliance with us, but they rarely display such a high degree of loyalty and love that dogs do.
The ability to love and forgive unconditionally is the very core reason why we love dogs so much. When we’re with them, we feel safe and loved, which fulfills our primal need. Dogs don’t care if we have a pimple on our face, thinning hair, imperfect teeth, or a few extra pounds or wear a T-shirt with a spot on it. They do not judge us when we make mistakes or slip up in a conversation.
Perhaps the answer to human problems is to be more like dogs—sincere, open, forgiving, and loving—but it is often not easy. I have had a few situations in life when it was hard for me to forgive. However, forgiving someone who hurt us is good for our health and happiness. At the same time we must not mistake forgiveness with suppressing our feelings and emotions. I trust you know what I mean.
When we aim to forgive, it helps to see things from the other person’s perspective and try to understand why people get grumpy, intolerant or even aggressive. They may be frustrated with their choices, have made bad decisions, lost direction in life, or feel unworthy of a good life.
There are also people whose ego is acting out and they need to feel a sense of superiority in order to feel worthy. In other words behind the confident and arrogant facade, there is a fearful person with low self-esteem.
I agree that we must prevent people from physically and emotionally hurting us and others. The good news is that most of us are free to decide what kind of people we have in our lives. However, I have seen it in many lives of my friends and clients that not forgiving contributes to stress and disease, and it also affects the health and well-being of our dogs.
I am not saying you should feel solely responsible for every health problem your dog experiences. What I mean is that practicing forgiveness helps us and our dogs to be overall, happier and healthier.
Perhaps you may want to make a list of people you think wronged or hurt you and write them a letter of forgiveness. You may or may not send it, you may burn it, you may keep it but no matter what you do with it, I bet it will make you feel better!
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM