Whether it be dog-to-dog or dog-to-human, the comforting love of a dog is very special. Last Wednesday, while attending one of our Therapy Dog Stress-Relief Events at Greenfield Community College in Greenfield, Massachusetts, I sat mesmerized watching my wonderful dog King shower his dear friend Coco, a nine year old chocolate Lab, with his love. These two have been friends since they met in therapy dog training class three years ago. Actually, King was enamored of Coco back then and he had a hard time taking his eyes off of her, almost flunking out of class! Fast forward to present day, Coco has been through a very challenging year health wise, resulting in amputation of her right from leg. King hadn’t seen Coco since her surgery, but, this perceptive, loving dog just knew things had changed for his friend. He joined her on her soft fleece blanket and there he lay throughout the entire event, close beside her, his head and paw resting gently on her side. Never once did he leave her nor try to instigate in flirtatious play. He simply knew, as dogs do, that his friend needed him there, enjoying his company like an elderly couple outside enjoying the warmth of a sunny springtime day together. The scene was so touching, it left me in a euphoric state of mind the rest of the day.
I have been the fortunate recipient of this special kind of dog love throughout my lifetime. My dogs have given me unconditional love, comfort, and friendship through times of illness, tragedy and death. They are always there… knowing when to be playful, ready for a walk, or just knowing the time when lying close against my feet or beside me on the couch, quietly snuggling in, is what the moment calls for. I have observed them with hospice patients in their final days of life… the dogs just know what is needed at this time, far better then we humans do.
King has an extra dose of loving kindness. I saw this in him from the time he joined our household three years ago. Our beloved James was still with us at the time, but unbeknownst to all but King, he would be with us for only four more months. Instead of joining his sister Lily and (new) sister Annie in youthful playtime out back in the field, King joined his new special friend James on his bed, snuggling in, lying quietly right up close to him.
I never tire of observing dogs and their behavior toward one another. How they speak in their own language through gestures and eye contact. Purely fascinating. I learn so much from my dogs.