Angel the dog
Angel was an easy rider.

Ever wonder why your dog-loving friends can't stop talking about their four-legged, drool-producing fur balls? Well, they've stumbled upon a well-kept secret: dogs make humans more human. That's right! Dogs are, in fact, the reason we've evolved from tree-swinging primates to bipedal beings with a penchant for reality TV and avocado toast.

I had several dogs over the years but only three I really bonded with. The first was a poodle-terrier mix named Chainsaw and the name fit. The second was named Angel Dog, and the third nick-named Bo.

Dogs Make Us More Loving and Loyal

As the saying goes, "A dog is a man's best friend," and boy, are they ever! Dogs have perfected the art of loyalty, sticking by our sides through thick and thin, good times and even bad hair days. And they've taught us a thing or two about being loyal to our fellow humans. Thanks to our canine companions, we've learned the value of sticking by our friends, partners, and favorite pizza delivery guys. So if you ever wonder why you feel a sudden surge of loyalty to your favorite brand of peanut butter, you can thank your dog for that.

Bo DogBo was a throwback Pomeranian whose genes were prior to the miniaturization of the breed by Queen Victoria. I rescued my elderly mother from Bo, and we adopted him as Bo was a handful. He was extremely frisky and loved to jump up on you. His legal name was Rambo and was named after his sire. We just called him Bo as he was a lover, not a fighter, and perhaps the sweetest dog that ever lived. He lived until nearly 17 and when he could no longer walk it seemed that the most loving option was to put him to sleep. Bo taught me about unwavering love and that euthanasia can be an act of love.

Dogs Help Us Improve Our Communication Skills

Dogs don't speak human (except for those few internet-famous ones, of course). Still, they do understand the language of love, excitement, and snack time. They've trained us to communicate with them through subtle cues like tail wags, head tilts, and the occasional full-body tackle. In turn, we've become experts at deciphering these canine codes, making us more empathetic and understanding in our human interactions. So the next time you can read someone's mood just by looking at their eyebrows, give your dog a treat – they've earned it.

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One rainy night as I walked from the living room to the kitchen, as I passed the front door, I chanced to look outside and there in the corner, trying to keep dry from the pouring rain, was this furry little black ball not much bigger than a guinea pig. Thus we were acquired by Angel.

Angel Dog grew into a medium size dog and appeared to be part chow and something else. However he looked more Labrador than chow. Angel was a very loyal companion to Marie, and he tolerated me. When the emergency siren at the volunteer fire station in the neighborhood would wail, Angel would take to howling at the top of his lungs. Didn't take long and Marie and I would joyously join in. There we were, all three of us, at the big picture window howling back at that siren and laughing with utter joy.

One evening Angel and I were watching TV when all of a sudden he stood up, staggered a bit, looked back into my eyes as if to say goodbye and laid down and died. He was near eleven and taught me about silent heart-to-heart conversations and about death from old age.

Dogs Teach Us How to Live in the Moment

In a world filled with smartphones, social media, and an endless barrage of emails, it's easy to get lost in the digital realm. Enter the dog: our ultimate mindfulness coach. They know there's nothing better than a good sniff, a roll in the grass, or a game of fetch to remind us of the simple joys of life. Dogs have a knack for pulling us back into the present moment, which is pretty darn human.

Chainsaw didn't typically chase cars but one day a truck with a rickety trailer passed in front of our house and off he went like a scalded dog. Little did he realize there was a bar on the back of the trailer and it whacked him on the head. To my horror, he tumbled over and over and then fell into the drainage sewer. He was down 8 to 10 feet and it required me to remove the manhole cover and descend into the hole -- the last 2 feet head first. He was limp and felt half-dead as I carried him to the front porch.

I took a towel and dried him off as he lay there helpless on my lap. Just then his archenemy, Jimmy the neighbor's dog, made his usual mistake of cutting across the corner of our yard. Up went the ears then the head and Chainsaw, half-dead or not, was off my lap like a twice-scalded dog. Nothing was going to stop him from living in the moment and protecting his territory.

One day, a few year later, upon returning from work he was so happy to see me, as usual, that he darted into the street and was instantly killed by a passing car. Chainsaw taught me about living in the moment, as well as about shocking accidental sudden death and negligence. It nearly broke my heart.

Dogs Inspire Our Creativity

The next time you're in need of a creative boost, just look at your dog. Their boundless energy and ability to turn a simple stick into an exciting toy are a testament to the power of imagination. Dogs inspire us to look at the world through fresh eyes and find beauty in the ordinary. If that's not the essence of being human, I don't know what is!

Angel had a favorite toy that was like a somewhat flat doll. He loved that baby. He would carry it around, and lay down and proceed to groom it carefully. It was his baby and he took good care of it. It did not matter to him that it was not a living breathing baby. It was under his care and he loved it dearly. 

Dogs Make Us Better Problem Solvers

Dogs are masterminds at figuring out how to get to that tasty treat on the top shelf or how to sneak on to the forbidden sofa. They've honed their problem-solving skills to an art form, and they're happy to share their wisdom with us. In turn, we've learned to think outside the box to tackle life's challenges. So next time you solve a complex puzzle, don't forget to give your furry Einstein a high-paw.

My aforementioned dog, Bo, had a well-earned nickname. It was Houdini. We had a fenced in back yard that was fenced with wire, and the squares did not at all appear to be big enough to let his furry body through. But Bo was an adventurer. He loved to take off and explore his environment. After his disappearing a few times, we discovered that he was squeezing and wiggling his way through the small holes in the fence. We stood there one day as he twisted and wiggled and twisted some more until he was through the fence and off to a new adventure.

Dogs Encourage Us to Be More Social

Angel had a thing about cows. They fascinated him. On our yearly drive from Florida to Canada and back, he would ride in the back seat and he loved to look outside at the passing scenery. However nothing seemed to grab his attention more than a field of cows. He would get all excited as we drove by those four-legged creatures grazing in a field. It was as if he had discovered new friends.

Like a human wingman, dogs help break the ice and make new connections. There's nothing like a cute, slobbering icebreaker to start the conversation at the dog park or during a leisurely walk around the nighborhood. Before you know it, you're chatting with strangers about poop bags and chew toys, forming lasting bonds with fellow dog lovers, in this increasingly isolated world.

When Marie and I go walking only about half the dogless people acknowledge us but never a doggy one passes without a smile and a hello. Suffice it to say my dogs have helped make me more human. How about you?

About the Author

jenningsRobert Jennings is co-publisher of with his wife Marie T Russell. He attended the University of Florida, Southern Technical Institute, and the University of Central Florida with studies in real estate, urban development, finance, architectural engineering, and elementary education. He was a member of the US Marine Corps and The US Army having commanded a field artillery battery in Germany. He worked in real estate finance, construction and development for 25 years before starting in 1996.

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