For the Love of Dogs

Thinking of the current events troubling us at home and abroad, I rather like the following quote from Mark Twain: 

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”

I have found an antidote to the cynicism of worldly affairs in the shapely form of man’s best friend; more specifically, my border terriers. 

Our old stud dog, Taz, has enjoyed a long and happy retirement from his toil. Now fifteen, he sometimes struggles to get out of his bed and his arthritic limbs scramble across wooden floors in the manner of a novice ice skater. 

It was something of a surprise then, when in the last throes of summer we found him tied with our young bitch, Olive in the back garden. 

A well directed bowl of water failed to dampen proceedings and the deed was done. 

I had grossly underestimated the maxim that “there’s life in the old dog yet.” Underestimated that is, by five shiny new border terrier puppies- all of them girls. 

Now three weeks of age, their eyes have opened to a whole new world; well, the downstairs toilet for now, but you get my drift. 

They have found their feet, albeit a little shakily, and have found an ability to make sort of mewling and purring noises as they begin to play with their sisters. 

Olive is a great mum and has been fattening these little creatures as if readying them for the Christmas table. Although she is now spending longer out of the whelping box between feeding times, she is at their beck and call. So seriously does she take her motherly duties that even the faintest squeak sends her scuttling back to them. 

Taz, in stark comparison- like his human master – is deaf to infant cries. He sleeps the sleep of the dead, tongue falling out of his open mouth, legs akimbo. airing the furry pockets of his potency that resemble two black truffles nestled in a clump of thick grass. 

Olive allows Michelle and me to handle her girls but only under her close supervision to make sure that there’s no funny business. 

They will begin weaning next week as we introduce solid food but for now they have grown so large that they look like a pride of lions feasting on the belly of an undernourished Zebra; all fighting for position over the choice giblets. 

The poor girl looks completely overwhelmed at times, though she dutifully washes them and keeps the bed clean without complaint. 

Despite the pregnancy being unplanned and causing not a little disturbance to household plans, now that the pups are here we have softened our stance. The joy of puppies and the overflowing exuberance of new life never fails to ignite renewed hope in the world. 

We have decided to keep one. She is the firstborn and the smallest – and the only one with the blue and Tan colouration that I have always wanted. 

Having finished all treatment for my cancer, it feels as though I have been granted one last chance to witness this miracle. 

I’ve never been a great lover of domestic cats. They look down on you as if they tolerate your presence in their home but somehow find it a great inconvenience. They use other people’s gardens as their toilet and they murder birds and bats and all manner of creatures. Occasionally they can be useful ratters but other than that I have little praise for them. 

Dogs on the other hand are a different prospect altogether: they look up to you, they love unconditionally, they express their joy at being alive with uncontrollable ‘zoomies’ and they examine one’s expressions, picking up on sickness or sadness and have a knack of applying the correct remedy. They are an astute judge of character of visitors to one’s home and always do their best to convert those who are ambivalent to their presence. 

They wait for us to come home when we are away and greet us with the same enthusiasm as if we had just nipped upstairs to fetch something from a drawer. 

I’ll leave you with a quote from the novelist Milan Kundera, the sentiments of which I can wholly subscribe: 

‘Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.’



I didn’t manage to fit all the great quotes about dogs into my blog but couldn’t resist adding some of my favourites from other better known dog lovers: 

‘If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.’

Woodrow Wilson 

‘The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.’

Andy Rooney

‘I care not for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.’

Abraham Lincoln

‘A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones.’

Arthur Conan Doyle

‘If you don’t own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life.’

Roger Caras

‘I believe in integrity. Dogs have it. Humans are sometimes lacking it.’

Cesar Millan

‘The dog is the most faithful of animals and would be much esteemed were it not so common. Our Lord God has made His greatest gifts the commonest.’

Martin Luther

‘I’m suspicious of people who don’t like dogs, but I trust a dog when it doesn’t like a person.’

Bill Murray

11 thoughts on “For the Love of Dogs”

  1. Love this Jim ..
    so true about a dogs enthusiastic behaviour when greeting you ..
    my Dora goes bat crazy when she greats me after I have been to work , and again when I have been gone five mins , putting the bin out .
    A life without a dog for me would be so empty , she’s my best buddy and I adore her, your beautiful Olive and her babies and Randy Taz ( get on Taz you super stud ????)
    Sending lots of love to you all xxx nikki

    1. Thanks Nikki! What would we do without dogs, eh?
      Olive is very proud of them and keeps standing on my chest so I can tell her what a clever girl she is. X

  2. Lovely. I grew up with a dog and had dogs until it was no longer practical. I am now far to selfish to have a dog and wouldn’t want to change my lifestyle. Perhaps one day. Jane

    1. Love this Jim, always had dogs in my life – they fill a place no humans can x. Take care my friend, love ro you and the whanau x

  3. Love this Jim
    We lost our little Toffee just over a year ago after 13 years of loving him and he us.
    I still expect Toffee and his little gift of socks to greet me upon my return home but sadly the silence is sometimes deafening ????
    Love to you all
    The Fath Family xxx

  4. Jimbo see u at the end of the month and don’t be thinking u can use this as an excuse for extra shots. lol if I had known u could write so well I would have got to do all our paperwork ????x

  5. Hi Jim
    Such a beautiful and honest write up on Cancer. Thank you.
    I couldn’t stop reading and felt the deep impact of your diagnosis and treatment path.
    Brave man through trust in Jesus and all God’s works.
    I agree about Dogs….love soo deep!

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