10 Things for Dog Lovers to Give Thanks for This Season

Reflecting on the past year, I'm most grateful for the amazing progress of my dog Sheba. Not only because she's survived another year to the...


Reflecting on the past year, I’m most grateful for the amazing progress of my dog Sheba. Not only because she’s survived another year to the ripe age of 15, but becauseshe’s managed to regain some of the mobility and enthusiasm of her more youthful self.

That rejuvenation happened shortly after Sheba received injections of her own stem cells. But Sheba’s attitude has something to do with it too. Every day, this sweet dogshowseveryoneshe meetsthat it’s possible to be a happy young lady of 105 (that’s 15 in dog years) — and thatit’s no problemto keep up with a much younger boyfriend (her favorite playmate is 4-year-old Lazarus)! Watching these two aerobically horse around together is the best in free entertainment.

This Thanksgiving, there are so many more things I’ll be thankful for. And these too each and every one of them I owe to my dogs. I’m luckyto have five dogs,because I feel like they give me50reasons to be thankful! Here are 10 reasons I’m giving thanks for my canine friends:

1. Dogs help heala broken heart, generouslyoffering a strong, silentshoulder to cry on. This summer Isustainedlove lacerations that dragged on for months.My manran away and came back,then ran away again. Then he came back and… ran away again. My dogMagnus knows better than anyone what a wreck I’ve been; he stoically slept by my side through the worst of it (and kept human riffraff out of our bed).

2. Dogs bring a smile to the saddest face and force us not to take things too seriously.As I becameawalking Roy Orbison song and not “Pretty Woman,” either! my German ShepherdK9 Desireepromptly got sick of that soundtrack, and did her utmost toswitch the CD. So she did, the only way dogs know how: by makingtheir humanslaugh out loud.That sweetdog put on quite a clown show, prancingand leaping in the air, gently biting my fingernails, and pulling me out ofthe darkcloud I’d retreated into. And laugh I did!

3. Few things are tougher than sticking with a workout regimen if you’re not athletically inclined, but dogs make brilliant fitness coaches and workout partners. They demand to go out three or four times daily, whatever the weather. They’re always up for adventure. And walking happens to be the heart-healthiest exercise there is (ask any doctor), sojust by getting us moving, our dogskeep us living longer and stronger.

4.Dogsmake the best muses for creative types. If you write for a living, it can be tough to reach your recommended daily allowance of scribbling. But dogs provide bottomless reserves ofmaterial as bestselling author Julie Klam will tell you. Here on Dogster, my own dogs motivated me to write every single day for a solid year. On days when I was stumped for a topic, one ofmy packwould do something and wham I’d feel a column coming on!

5. There’s no career coach like a dog. In 1999, I made the unlikely switch from fashion journalism to writing about pets. Instead of tracking trends in clothing, I followed my dogs’ lead, sniffing out the pet scene.They didn’t steer me wrong. With my dogs as my employer-mentors, I came to appreciatehow everysubject that matters from politics to finance, culture to medicine may be understood and appreciated ina K9 context. Although not nearly as savvy as they are, I’m certainly smarter than I was!

6. Dogs teach us the gentle art of forgiveness. If we stop to think about how unconditionally they love us, how readily they pardon us for every transgressionfrom being late with dinner to leaving them for hours at a time, we too may learn how toforgive and forget(or at least overlook) the trespassesofour fellow humans.

7. In those parts of the country whereit getscold at this time of year, Dogsters are once again appreciating how thermally efficient our beloved K9s can be. At my place, every winter night is a four-dog night (Sheba gets hot and prefers the floor to the bed). If I happen to get cold feet,I simply tuck my toes underthe nearestsleeping dog, whose average body temperature is a toasty 101 degrees Fahrenheit!

8. Dogs grow old with grace and dignity, never complaining or feeling sorry for themselves. And in helping them cope with their bodily breakdowns stiff joints and cloudy eyes and a winding-down heart we learn about supplements thatalso arm us humans againstthe aging process (including turmeric,milk thistle, and hawthorn).

9. Dogs are the most reliable home security system. Large or small, muscular or dainty,our best friendskeep watch over our homes and stand prepared to defend us against intruders. This past summer on New York City’s Upper East Side, in the middle of the night, a young woman was raped in her apartment, directly across the street from mine. He climbed in through her unlocked window; the incident shook me and my neighbors.If only she’d had a dog, I thought as I hugged mine extra-tight.

10. Death is theintruder lurking outside every window. Dogs don’t live nearly long enough as we’d like them to and that’s nothing to be thankful for.But by facingthe inevitablewith courage, dogs set a fine example for us. In their too-short lives, they teach volumes about the art of accepting what we cannot change.

What are you thankful for, Dogsters? Please share in the comments.

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