November 9, 2023
November 9, 2023
My family got our first dog, Zoë, in 2015. She was dumb as rocks, but that didn't matter, because she didn't join our family to do calculus.
A pet can inject acceptance into a child's life at a level unattainable by even the most well-meaning of humans. A dog doesn't care about how you look to your friends on social media, she doesn't care how you did on that test, and she's right there to snuggle with you without judgment when you most need a friend. For a parent, too, a dog can be a source of unconditional love when it's not forthcoming from the offspring; a dog never yells "I hate you!" before asking you to take her to the mall.
Zoë was a "zero-or-60" dog; she'd either be napping peacefully on the floor or shouting about how happy she was to be in your presence. She had a somewhat-inconvenient habit of peeing in excitement when we'd walk in the front door, but it's hard to be grumpy at someone expressing such joy to see you, so we'd mop the puddles without complaint.
I try always to have my radar tuned for life lessons from the beings in my orbit. Zoë taught me I should find a way to summon and express, at least once a day, the sheer delight of being with my kids, with no expectations, no hidden messages, no commentary... even when they weren't being delightful. In her own loud and messy way, Zoë told everyone she knew how thrilled she was that they exist on the planet, and no one could fail to get the message.
It's not easy to add value to the world at zero cost, but conveying your own brand of delirious excitement at being around good people is one way to do it. See what happens when you give it a whirl with your own kids! Chances are you won't even need to wipe up.