If you’re lucky, ‘just a dog’ has changed your life

“I feel sorry for people who say, ‘It’s just a dog.’ They’ve probably never experienced the most genuine love and companionship a human being can know.” —Me

“Benny’s a good boy!” Those words scored a look every time from the miniature schnauzer, provided his radar wasn’t locked onto a squirrel. If dogs understand us, and I think some do, Benny knew they meant he belonged.

“Benny’s a good boy,” also worked for training. Those words plus a tasty treat and he knew he had done something to please.

And, “Benny’s a good boy,” were also the words I said to him over and over last Saturday morning while stroking his head and watching through moist eyes as he slipped away crossing that Rainbow Bridge.

Benjamin Jon Fran Song, his AKC “Christian name,” moved in February of 2005 although we picked him as “ours” soon after his arrival December 10, 2004.

The tiny ball of black fur, the runt of the litter soon grew to a 12-pound salt-and-pepper friend full of life and love. From his almost 15 years, I have many Benny stories you may have to endure when you see me. And if you tire of those, I might share a Max story from the days when an old re-homed basset hound we called “a fine dog” roamed Texas with me.

Benny – May 2005
Photo at top of page December 2017

Sayings about what our dogs mean to us are plentiful. I don’t have any new ones to offer, but I heartily subscribe to many I’ve heard.

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” Perhaps the most popular saying about domesticated canines, it’s the best in my book. The world needs more unconditional love, and the best way to learn it is by making friends with a dog. Love one and it will love you back ten-fold—no questions asked. Scold one that loves you, and with tail tucked between its legs, it will beg forgiveness with its eyes never questioning whether you were right or wrong.

Still don’t believe me about unconditional love? Try coming home late one night to your wife and your dog with no explanation for where you’ve been and take note of which one is happier to see you.

“It’s impossible to forget a dog that gave you so much to remember.” Afternoon walks. Playtime fetching a toy as many times as you throw it. Naps at your feet letting you know your dog’s favorite place is with you.

“Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love, they depart to teach us about loss.” I thought no dog could ever replace Max. Stories about him are legend among family and friends. I sat on the floor and wept when Max’s time came thinking I could never replace that friendship. I was wrong.

In short order, Benny napped in my lap assuring me that I had a new furry friend as loving, trusting, and entertaining as Max was. And, he was right.

“No matter how many years we get with our dogs, it’s never enough.” Benny’s age started catching up with him last year. Over the years, he dodged an attempted dog napping by a couple of young punks, a brush with a passing vehicle’s tire that was too close for comfort suffering only a bad scare, and other close calls.

But, none of us can dodge dates on the calendar. The sparkle in his eyes had dimmed as other physical failings were making life a challenge. Saturday, it was obvious he was hurting, that he was not going to get better, and we both knew it was time.

“If you’re lucky, a dog will come into your life, steal your heart and change everything!” The void in my life has hurt this week, but it’s a good sadness remembering good memories a dog left in my heart. I’ve been blessed more than once by “just a dog” that has changed my life.

And if I’m lucky, it will happen again.

—Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune,  the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

2 thoughts on “If you’re lucky, ‘just a dog’ has changed your life

  1. Sorry Leon- every word you wrote was right on target. My favorite dog(s): moogy, cocoa, Rocko, Rudy, Jane 1&2., and now have Hadley and Harper. Don’t know how I’m going to handle Hadley (9) passing. Still can’t bring myself to putting Rudy’s ashes away.

    Thinking about you tonight.

    Jimmy Chionsini America: Home of the free, BECAUSE of the brave

    Liked by 1 person

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