Garry actually asked me why I don’t write about dogs. I had a hard time explaining that in addition to the idea, you need a “book concept,” an idea of where you will start, finish, and what’s going to happen in between. Unlike blogging, it isn’t anecdotal. It needs to be … well … a book.

My favorite cartoon by George Booth was originally published in The New Yorker. It shows a man sitting in front of a typewriter. Dogs are everywhere A woman, presumably, his wife watches from the doorway. The caption reads “Write about dogs.”

My home is full of dogs. Anyone who comes to visit must compete with the dogs for the comfortable chairs and the best spots on the sofa. (Come to think of it, we have to fight them for the best seats too.) That’s the way it is. The dogs are family.

If we have guests who are old, frail or allergic, we do our best to accommodate their needs. We put the most rambunctious, smelly, and hairy dogs out of the way if we can, but that depends on the weather. Basically, if you don’t like dogs, you’ve come to the wrong house. People who don’t like dogs are not frequent visitors.

That’s fine with me. I prefer the company of most dogs to most people. There are lots of reasons to prefer dogs. But the two big ones are love and honesty.

Gibbs with Duke

Dogs love you completely, totally, and without reservation. They don’t care about your social status or education, whether you are young or old, ugly or beautiful, rich or poor. They love you completely.

Your dog will never betray or abandon you.

Dogs are terrible liars. Not that they don’t try. Every dog will do his or her best to convince each human to give them treats. Your dog will tell you she needs a biscuit now or will collapse from hunger. This is not particularly convincing when the canine in question is a beefy pooch who has obviously never missed a meal. Eternally optimistic, all dogs figure it’s worth a shot. It’s a dog thing. You never know when a biscuit might fall your way.

Duke and Bonnie

When the performance our furry kids put on in hopes of getting a tasteless dry biscuit is especially hilarious, we relax the rules and give them a little something. After all, they don’t have hands and can’t grab one for themselves. Now and again, they need to get lucky because they’re cute and we love them.

Dogs lie, but their lies are simple and transparent. There’s no malice in them. They just want a biscuit or maybe have you throw that ball. If they don’t get what they want, they love you anyway.

When it comes to love, dogs are the best. They “get” love and think you are wonderful. They think you are wonderful every day of their lives. When they are dying, the last thing they will do is look at you with love in their eyes, wag their tail one final time and try to give you a kiss.

I have spent my life lurching between my quest for God and an equally ardent quest for the best dog food at the most reasonable price. When times have been hard and we’ve had to choose between food for us and food for our furry children, the fur kids always win.


Our dogs do not suffer from angst. They don’t worry unless supper runs late or biscuits are forgotten in the bustle of a day’s activities. If such a catastrophe should occur, they know exactly where to present their grievances and apply for redress. Dogs live close to their deities. They hang out with their gods on the sofa. They get biscuits from them in the morning and evening. If life is circumscribed and a bit confined, it is nonetheless good.

Sometimes one of their gods gets angry and yells at them. That might make them unhappy for a few minutes, but the gods of their world don’t stay angry. Our dogs have kindly and loving gods who are inclined to scratch them behind the ears and talk to them in soft voices.


We are gods to our dogs and as such, we set laws for them to live by. Don’t poop or pee in the house. Do not chew things not given to you for chewing, especially not anything containing batteries. Don’t jump on old people or babies. Don’t growl at delivery people. Don’t stay up late barking. Abide by the law and all will be well. When rules are clear and understood by all, life runs smoothly.

The human side of the contract is more complicated. It’s harder being a god than being a dog.

We pledge to care for them all the days of their lives. We keep them healthy. We love and nurture them. We feed them properly, make sure they get exercise – though they don’t get enough of it and neither do we. We keep them warm and dry in winter, cool and dry in summer. If we force them to go outside to do their business, it is because they are, after all, dogs.

About to engage …

Every evening, for at least a little while, their gods climb down from heaven to play on the floor.

Dogs don’t fret about the future. They live in a joyful present. When their time comes, we will make sure they pass gently out of this world. We promise to keep them as free from suffering as is within our power. That is our solemn contract. We live up to that pledge because we really are gods to our fur children and must never let them down. Pets teach you a lot about the divine contract.

Categories: dogs, faith, god and gods, Marilyn Armstrong, Photography

Tags: , , , , ,

37 replies

  1. Ody’s late brother was the only cat I knew who loved to chew on everything… and that remote reminds me of how that’s the only thing I don’t miss about him. The last photo of the dogs cracks me up, because the stuffed squirrel appears to be in “skunk spray” position…. don’t chew on me, or else!!!!


  2. A problem with most dogs might be they seem so sad when you leave them to travel.


  3. ❤ Yep. Though, I'm not sure I've ever been a god to my dogs. Maybe an accomplice 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed this post! It’s true! Dogs love you unconditionally and without exception. It doesn’t matter the mood your in, whether you ache or not, how you look, that adoration in those beautiful eyes gives you a kind of lift that nothing else can. Love this! Happy New Year Marilyn and Garry, however our choosing to see it in. I will probably be spending mine with my son and Loki the adorable 110 lb. pup! lool

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You certainly did write about dogs and so much more. Life. I especially loved the part about “lurching between my quest for God and an equally ardent quest for the best dog food at the most reasonable price.” That says it all, Marilyn:)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah, but you ARE writing about dogs! And very well, too. Your “when they are dying” line made me tear up. I remember our German Shepherd, who was in extreme pain and about to be put down, trying his best to protect my husband and me from the “strangers” (vet personnel) in the room. He wasn’t vicious, but he did try to crawl between us and the medical people. And, then there’s your comment about choosing between your pets and yourself when money is low. Been there, done that, hope I never have to do it again. I remember eating plain rice for about 2 weeks between paychecks, but I made sure my dog got his usual ration of dog food.


    • Like children, we are bidden to care for them and nothing can change that. It’s why, I suppose, I’m so horrified at dog cruelty stories. Unlike children, no one pushed you into getting a dog. If you don’t love them, why in the world do you have them?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes, full marks on all of this… had a really loud laugh at the chewed up remotes – my dog would eat anything and everything but we probably didn’t have remote controls yet at that time…. Some pretty spectacular pics too – give them a scratch and a cuddle from me, please. Is your day-and-night-barking baby better or have you learned to go totally w/o sleep?


    • MOST nights, she’s okay, but there are bad nights when she simply sits at the front window, on top of the sofa and barks more or less continuously for hours at a time. That has become less common, so between the nonstop barking, there are a few nights of decent sleep. When she goes off, though, it’s maddening because NOTHING will make her stop. And it’s rhythmic, Bark, bark, bark … pause … bark, bark, bark … pause. Then, sometimes, just enough time to drift off to sleep followed by bark, bark, bark … pause … bark, bark, bark … pause.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I actually remember that cartoon by Booth in the New Yorker.
    Happy New Year Marilyn & Garry.
    Peter & Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That pretty much sums it up… I didn’t get paid on time this month. As a consequence, my food cupboard was empty for several days. Ani had plenty of food in stock…and treats…
    The higher up the ladder you appear to be, the more you serve.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s our job. That is REALLY why we are here: to serve, to help, to make life better for people, dogs, birds, and the earth. I have never thought our goal was to become as rich as possible. I wouldn’t mind having enough to live on with a few more comforts, but I never even imagined wealth as our target. if we had, we probably could have gotten there … but we weren’t aiming that way.


      • Same here. There are a lot of people doing good with wealth… but ultimately, it is the people, not the money, who are doing good… and it doesn’t have to take money. Just care and empathy.


        • And the thing is, the process of getting rich takes much of your life. Even if after a while you can change directions and do “better,” you spend decades building the money and ignoring everything else. We could have. We had good salaries and should have done better (I wish we’d done a little bit better!), but that was not where we were at. I don’t know if we are the kind of people who could ever have focused our lives on making money.


          • I’ve done the business exec thing… loved the job, hated the excuse for ethics I saw too often and had Nick not been stabbed, would have done okay . I’ll never be wealthy in monetary terms, but as both my sons are still around, I wouldn’t go back and change any decisions I made at that time.


            • I think we could have been a LITTLE smarter with our money, but overall, we have each other, our son, granddaughter and whatever family remains (which sadly isn’t much these days). Time takes its toll, like it or not.

              I’m not sorry. We had a good life and we have wonderful memories. I’m just distressed by this last bunch of years where it seems all the good we thought we’d done got undone.


  10. let’s all take a lesson from the dogs and live a good life – here’s to 2020 and beyond!


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