The Meaning of Dogs

May 5, 2023

My wife Brenda grew up without dogs in her home. A notion so foreign to me I very seriously considered it a deal breaker when we first met. Slowly and carefully, I indoctrinated her with terrier propaganda, and she drank the Kool-Aid and is now a self-proclaimed terrier addict. Something I am very proud of!  My wife’s upbringing was drastically different than mine. My siblings and I have been raising dogs since we were in diapers. Some of our first photos of us, all of them carved into cave walls (old joke) were of us crawling around our kitchen floor with a litter of Airedale Terriers. It is an essential part of our family’s DNA.

Recently, someone posed a thought-provoking question to me: “Steve, what do dogs mean to you and your family?” It was a question that caused me to pause and reflect. What do dogs genuinely mean to us?

There are numerous ways in which people around the world interact with dogs. They can serve as work partners, companions, and even lifelines for individuals with disabilities. All of these are fantastic methods to utilize the remarkable characteristics that canines possess, thanks to the Creator. Nonetheless, for my family, words cannot express what dogs truly mean to us. How does one describe something that has had such a significant impact on their life?

As I pondered the question of what dogs mean to my family, I realized that they are much more than just pets or animals. They have been a constant source of joy, love, and companionship for us. Growing up with dogs, we learned the value of responsibility, compassion, and loyalty. We also learned how to care for another living being and the importance of nurturing relationships. I have fond memories of me and my two sisters having water balloon fights with our dogs chasing us around, learning how to hold a newborn puppy, and realizing how fragile and temporary life is with the passing of a few of our beloved k-9 companions. Dogs have been a presence in every significant stage of my upbringing, shaping who I am today.

It has been a gift for me to see my wife Brenda’s love for our dog’s form right in front of me and become a crucial part of her life. It was almost like being able to see my love for dogs grow as a child through her as an adult. She now shares my love and passion for terriers, and we have built a family around them. Our home is never empty or quiet. We have watched our dogs grow, learn, and become an integral part of our family dynamic along with my son. They have been there for us through thick and thin, always with a wagging tail and a wet nose.

For us, dogs represent an extension of my family. They are my confidants, our partners in crime and joy, and our most loyal companions. They bring a sense of purpose and meaning to ours lives’ that is hard to describe. There is something magical about the bond between a human and a dog that transcends language, culture, and even species.

Thinking back to the original question, the next time someone asks me what dogs mean to my family, I can only say that they simply mean everything. They are not just animals; they are a part of us, woven into the fabric of our lives. They have taught us about love, loyalty, and the joy of living in the moment. And for that, we are forever grateful.