What Do You Appreciate about Your Dog?

Appreciation isn’t a word often associated with dogs.

In a conversation with a neighbor who shares her home with two dogs, she mentioned that she “appreciated” her dogs. Many people say they like or love their dogs, while others mention specific traits, including breeds, colors or personalities, but I found her choice of words fascinating.

So I went to social media and asked, “What do you appreciate about your dogs? And do you sometimes take him or her for granted?”

The results came fast and furious; more than 100 in 24 hours. Respondents were from all over the U.S. as well as Europe and Australia. People had small dogs, including Miniature Pinschers and Chinese Cresteds, as well as large Rottweilers and all sizes in between. It was great fun to see how much our dogs are a part of our lives in such vital ways.

Companionship is Most Important

Almost everyone who responded mentioned the importance of companionship. Gail P. from Philadelphia shares her home with an Irish Setter; she says she appreciates her dog’s companionship and devotion to her, “We enjoy long walks together and watching TV from the sofa. He’s always there for me and I think that about sums it up.”

Pam M., from Fallbrook, CA, shares her home with Widget, an Australian Shepherd. Pam says, “We appreciate Widget for so many things. She spends her days and nights with one or the other of us or both. She brings us joy, comfort, and companionship.” Raymond D., of New Kensington, PA, says, “Being retired, my ten year old Miniature Pinscher, Shotzie, never leaves my side and is a wonderful companion.”

Working dogs are especially appreciated. Thomas G., who responded from France, said, “I have livestock guardian dogs who protect my small farm. I can’t even say how much I appreciate them. They are companions but also working dogs who protect my farm and my livestock, and therefore my livelihood. They also protect my family and me.” Sarah H., from New York City, has a dog who alerts her to sounds, “My dog, Angel, is my companion 24/7 but in doing so he has given me my life back. My appreciation knows no bounds.”

Although companionship resonated with most of the respondents, it is particularly important to those who live alone with their dog(s). Those who are single, divorced, widowed, or widowers appreciate their dog’s companionship even more. Tony B, of Saint Johnsville, NY, lost his wife, Debbie, and he appreciates his four Australian Shepherds, saying that his Aussie, Tivo, is his constant companion. Gail P., from San Diego, says that her dogs get her out walking and she willingly cooperates because the dogs enjoy it so much. She adds, “My dogs were such a comfort to me after my husband passed away.”

Tina K. from San Diego sums up the feelings of many: “After a 26-year marriage and an amicable divorce, and after children growing up and turning into adults, I found that my life lacked something. Someone to devote myself to; someone to watch grow, and to learn to love. My Jaxx is wonderful and naughty and amazing.”


Providing Security

The security that dogs can provide, even the barking of smaller dogs, is something that many respondents mentioned. Petra B. of Vista, CA, lives on a side street in a somewhat remote area. She says, “I appreciate the security my two English Shepherds provide. My oldest, Poncho, is watchful and aware and I feel well protected.”

Sometimes that feeling of security isn’t appreciated until it’s gone. Margo W., of Wichita, KS, says, “Evidently I appreciate the sense of security my dogs provide. After my yellow Lab, Harley Dog, passed away I heard noises in my house that I’d not heard in the twenty plus years I’ve lived here. When my new dog, Deuce, came home all the noises disappeared.”

Live in the Moment

Megan B., from Carmichael, CA, says, “While there are many things I appreciate about my dogs, I think what I love the most is their nature of being in the moment. Of not being worriers. It helps keep me in the present and keeps me from ruminating about the past or the future. This keeps me calmer. They are mood stabilizers for me.”

Sue H., from Skye, Victoria, Australia, also appreciates the timelessness that dogs have, “I have two Rottweilers who are almost nine years old.” She says that like all dogs, they greet her at the door with the same enthusiasm no matter how long she’s been gone; be it minutes or hours. “They are my instant de-stressers (I’m an emergency room nurse), no matter what kind of a day I’ve had.”

A Sense of Humor

Quite a few owners said that they appreciate their dog’s sense of humor and silliness. Petra B. says, “Tango, my youngest English Shepherd, cracks me up. He does silly things and then looks at me to make sure I’ve seen what he’s done.” She adds, “What a joy to come home to two beings who make me laugh, and provide unconditional love and companionship. No matter what mood I’m in when I come home from work they know how to make me laugh and turn that mood around.”

Rebecca M., of Ashville, NC, says, “Well, since I have [Chinese] Cresteds, silliness and a sense of humor comes with them. Their expressive behavior brings a smile to me every hour of the day. Their cuddles and sensitivity also creates a lovely sense of companionship.”


Sometimes Taken for Granted

As much as we love and appreciate our dogs, many owners admit that sometimes they do take their dogs for granted. But then, other owners argue about that. Pam M., with Widget the Aussie, says, “Widget is such a good dog who seldom does anything wrong so we may take her good behavior for granted. That is, until we think about how naughty our previous Aussies were!”

Linda R. shares her home with three Labrador Retrievers, two yellow and one black, and appreciates their steadiness and dependability. She says, “I’m sure there are times I take them for granted but with three house dogs those times are few and far between. Bad behaviors? Sure, but those are totally my fault.”

Kate E., from Delhi, NY, shares her life with two Belgian Tervurens, and says she appreciates many thing about her dogs, including their loyalty, quirkiness, and security. She likes that they force her to get outside and exercise. She adds, “I think I take their health for granted.” People assume her 12 year old dog is much younger while she often sees younger dogs who look much older.

Not all owners take their dogs for granted, though, especially when something tragic has happened. Ramond D., who shares his life with Shotzie, the Miniature Pinscher, says, “Having lost Shotzie’s younger sister, Peanut, in September to kidney failure, I can never let Shotzie go unappreciated or take her for granted.”

We Do Love Our Dogs

I’d like to thank everyone who responded to my questions. Although I couldn’t use all of the responses, what I did see throughout all of them was the love and joy that we share with our dogs. I’d like to say what lucky dogs we have, but in all fairness, we are the lucky ones.

Meet the Author: Liz Palika, CDT, CABC

Liz Palika is a Certified Dog Trainer and Certified Animal Behavior Consultant as well as the founder and co-owner of Kindred Spirits Dog Training in northern San Diego county. Liz is also the founder of Love on a Leash therapy dogs; her dog, Bones, goes on visits on a regular basis. A prolific writer, Liz is also the author of more than 80 books. Many of her works have been nominated or won awards from a variety of organizations, including Dog Writers Association of America, San Diego Book Awards, the ASPCA, and others. Liz shares her home with three English Shepherds: Bones, Hero, and Seven, as well as one confident and bossy orange tabby cat, Kirk. To relax from work, or to take work on the road, Liz and her crew travel the West and PNW in their RV. If you see an RV on the road named "Travelin' Dogs", honk and say hi!

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