Love for pets connects us with humans

Day by Day: Love for pets connects us with humans


November 3, 2019

This Week News

We know unconditional love when a warm, furry pet in the shape of a dog or cat cuddles with us.

It has been proven that such cuddles lower blood pressure and ease feelings of loneliness.

Over the years, my family has kept myriad dogs and cats as pets. Many of our family stories – happy and sad – revolve around these animals. We are not alone in this.

While camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee last month, my husband, Bob, and I met people from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Virginia and, of course, Tennessee. Still others we talked with but never learned their home state.

Our dog, Toby, was a perfect conversation starter during walks. He is friendly and loves meeting new people, as do we.

Lou and Dan Farrow from Sugar Tree, Tennessee, told us they have owned three dogs: Queenie, Duchess and Princess. Despite the royal names, one was “an all-American mutt,” Lou said; the other two were Keeshonds.

Dan went into their trailer to get a photo of Princess, their last dog. The beautiful animal was perched on his favorite rock, Dan told us.

“It’s right down this road,” he said. “She would go there every time we walked.”

Princess has been gone two years, yet they spoke of her as if she might be nearby.

We understood and we talked about our past dogs, too, with the same affection and sweet memories.

As we spoke, Toby was waiting patiently in a pile of leaves, facing toward our campsite.

“I think he is ready to go h-o-m-e,” I said, spelling the last word.

Dan and Lou both laughed and said they had to do the same thing with their dogs: spell such words as treat, ride and walk.

That’s because saying certain words made our dogs anticipate that action.

We joke that Toby has learned to spell, so we need to change such words as walk to stroll.

A veterinarian told me years ago that dogs can learn up to 100 words, but I didn’t ask if they could learn to spell.

Sunny was an 8-year-old golden retriever we met with his owner from Tennessee. I guessed they were from the Volunteer State because their canopies and coats were all orange.

An Ohioan might have scarlet and gray.

I didn’t get the owner’s name, but she told me Sunny was a little skittish and didn’t leave her side often.

Her story reminds us that we provide comfort for our dogs, too. I know Toby is happiest when Bob and I are with him.

William and Tamarra from Spottsville, Kentucky, talked about Buster, their black Lab, when they walked onto our campsite to meet us. While Tamarra petted Toby, William pulled out his phone to show us photos of Buster.

“He traveled with us for 12 years,” William said. “We were actually in this campsite last time we were here with him.”

That was two years ago; sadly, Buster is gone.

Kristina Reed of Virginia camped next to us for a few days.

It was her first time camping without her daughter, now in college.

She especially loved seeing Toby because she had to leave her dachshund home with a friend. She hikes, and no dogs are allowed on trails.

Kristina shared photos of her dogs, including one who died a couple of months ago.

Dogs and cats are with us for a short time.

They give us many reasons to be thankful they walked into our lives, offering comfort and reasons to smile and remember.

On the morning we were leaving, William came to say goodbye. He had watched us with Toby, and when Toby gave him a doggie goodbye, William said, “You sure do get attached, don’t ya?”

That we do.


Bob, Toby and me in the Smokies

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