It is sometimes said that the best therapists are furry and have four legs. I would add that I think our dogs make pretty darn good teachers as well.

Yes, you read that right. It’s true WE teach our dogs a lot – how to sit, shake hands, heel, and so on. With the proper training, some dogs even become guard dogs, service dogs, and seeing-eye dogs. But I think it quite possible, even likely, that they actually teach us even more.

The reason I say this is because our Maltese, Baxter, passed recently, and I have been thinking not only about what he meant to us, but what we learned from him. Consider:

* Dogs teach us how to live life one day at a time. I thought for sure we would have Baxter at least a few more years, but what do I know? Earlier this month, he suddenly became gravely ill, and it was clear he was suffering. I was not ready to say goodbye to our four-legged best friend, and yet my wife convinced me that we had to. His passing reminded me just how fleeting life really is, and how this is true for not only people, but especially our pets, who only live a fraction as long as we do.

Resources for those grieving the loss of a pet:

Love is a Dog   

Rainbow Bridge ……..

Besides, ever known a dog that didn’t know how to enjoy each day? On many a stressful day at my computer, I would look down and see Baxter looking at me, probably eager for a treat, and I would think to myself, “With love like that, how bad can it really get?”

* Dogs teach us loyalty. Ever known an animal more loyal than a dog? Baxter would follow me from room to room to room throughout the day. Whatever I was doing, wherever I was, that was where he wanted to be. Sometimes, I would swear he was too “zonked out” (sleeping) to notice I was out of the room. Nope! I’d be in the bathroom…next thing I knew… there would be Baxter lurking into the room to see where I was!

* Dogs teach us unconditional love. We humans certainly know how to love pretty well on our own, but it is easier said than done to love as unconditionally as our four-legged friends. defines unconditional as, “absolute, complete, and unqualified.” Consider prenuptial agreements as but one example. “I will love you if….” Love, but with strings attached. But there is no such thing for dogs…They don’t care what we do, or how much money we make. They love us. Period.

Here are some of the other things that dogs teach us:

1) Let someone scratch behind your ear or rub your belly once in a while – it feels good!

2) Stick your head out a window and let the wind rush past your face – that feels good, too!

3) There’s no such thing as too much of a good thing! See #1 and #2.

4) “To the world, we might be one person, but to one person – or a pet – we might be the world.” – Anon.

5) “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” – Anon.

It is said that God brings pets into our lives to show us how to love, and they leave to teach us about loss.

RIP Baxter – you taught us a lot.

CAPTIONS: Dogs certainly don’t teach us anything about computers! (photo above left), but they sure teach us a lot of other things. One thing dogs are good at (and even people) is napping – Baxter and I nodding off (above right). Baxter and I getting ready for Halloween (above left).