Feb 15

Do Dogs Make the Best Friends?

Randon thoughts on canine loyalty, friendship, blogging and Valentines.

When life changes due to illness, sorrow or even financial changes, it is not unusual to find yourself having a bad day because you suddenly realize an old friend has dropped away, because you aren't fun anymore, or you cannot do things for them that you used to do, so they simply aren't interested in you any more or perhaps they even find you offensive now that you are different. Yesterday I actually asked someone why I neer heard from them anymore, and I had written three sentences about my family (since we were friends who knew each other's families very well) including "I am still fighting this stupid chronic illness". Was kind of shocked when she replied that this is the reason she doesn't stay in touch anymore. Says she has her aches and pains but doesn't use them to bring others down and as an example, she gave me the sentence I just quoted above, re me saying I am still fighting this stupid chronic illness. I surely hope I don't bring anyone down, in fact, I think having an illness change my life has, if anything, made me more compassionate to others. But I don't think compassion is necessarily what people look for in friendships, at least that person didn't give a hoot that I earnestly prayed for her relatives, or listened to her pour out her heart about family issues in the past-- she just didn't want to EVER hear me say that I am still in pain. Because obviously that was a "downer" for her. So sorry.

I really haven't had that happen with dogs. News Flash---people can be meaner than dogs! I have never been fond of the saying "meaner than a junkyard dog". Yes, I know some dogs are dangerous, but few, in comparison to people. In the US, dogs kill, on average, between 15 and 30 people per year (see http://www.dogsbite.org/ if you are are, like I am, heartbroken over this issue. They actually give details on each attack every year, as well as plenty of information on bite prevention). But this article is not about this small percentage of vicious dogs. It's about friendship. The love of a person, versus the love of a dog.

If we are going to mention the fatal dog attack rate, perhaps compare it to the number of people murdered in the US every year! People are much more likely to kill you than dogs, so their "meanness" is not just emotional hurt but we have quite a few human beings who think nothing of taking a life. I guess though the comparison is not apples to apples, because to truly compare, we would have to know how many dogs are killed by other dogs, and there is no record kept of these incidents.  So perhaps I should correct my statement and instead say something like "You are less likely to be killed or seriously hurt by your dog friends than your human friends!" Harder to prove with statistics, but I truly believe you are less likely to be hurt by your dog than by the people you know. Doesn't mean we should dump our human friends, it just means maybe we should appreciate our canine ones more.

Are you lonely? Well, depending on what type of dog you choose, you are probably going to find that dogs are better listeners, because they love attention so much you can talk to them all afternoon without them becomig aggravated and running away. Yes, some dogs are a bit ADD, and after a bit they will start chewing on their toy and throwing it up in the air if you are boring, but at least they will make you laugh and give you a certain amount of attention without burrowing their heads in their cell phones! Heck, I haven't even met a dog yet who knows how to play video games or mess around on Facebook. Not one of my six dogs has a cell phone!

Speaking of messing around, they aren't going to meet an old gilfriend on FB and leave you, I have yet to see that featured on the Dr. Phil show. Above is a mixed breed dog who used to board with us at Bed & Biscuit years ago, learning about toys in the playtime area. You can tell he is focused, he is not busy checking his text messages! When a dog is "rude", he or she is more often than not, being rude because he WANTS your attention (so he is jumping up on you or pulling at your pants leg) than because he doesn't want it.

Dogs love to play games, but they don't like to play head games, such as putting other people down. They aren't going to tell you that their previous home was in a more prestigious neighborhood, because they are more about trusting you if you are trustworthy and kind, than if you have a fancy job, house or car.  If we could read their thoughts, we would probably find they are delighted that the person with the expensie rug they tinkled on gave them to you, a person who carea a bit less about their rugs and takes them for so many walks that they no longer have to seek out a rug for potty purposes!

Few dogs are bigots. I have met a couple who were just a bit racist, especially towards other dogs, if they have been kept only around their own breed for many years. A dog sometimes "recognizes its own" and is afraid of, or simply doesn't like, dogs who are very different than themselves. But if you adopt them as a puppy, and socialize them with all types of dogs, then it is hihgly unlikely that they will be this way, so rarely are people/dog relationships negatiely affected by the dog being racist!  Dogs usually either like other dogs and enjoy playing with them, or they don't. The ones who don't can make excellent pets, as long as they are people-oriented. In fact, many people who own just one dog really enjoy dogs who care only about THEM, the dog's owner, and not about playing with other dogs or even other people. As a rule, dogs are the type of companion who bond closely to their owners. Yes, if they are a hound dog, they may scent a bunny and take off if they are not in a fence, and our Siberians love to run, because this is what they are bred to do. But proper housing and fencing prevents these issues.  And if you like VERY close bonding, simply get a dog like a Shepherd or a Shepherd mix, or even a Toy breed that was bred only for companion dog reasons, and they are very unlikely to choose the call of the wild over being with you.

Dogs don't tell your secrets. Most of all, they don't say hurtful things, or hit you while you are down. When I became ill, they didn't stop staying in touch because I complained too much. If I cry, they are more likely to come climb in my lap than hurry up to get off the phone!  Although I am sure they miss being able to do things like play around on an agility course, they probably love having Mommy home all day now and since dogs live in the moment, i doubt they are mad at me about things we used to do, but don't do anymore.

So if you need a loyal friend, get a dog. You can find very kind hearted, grateful souls at your local animal shelter, or you can wait on the specific type of dog you want from an ethical breeder (ethical breeder is a topic for another article, but there are many out there, you just cannot find them on every corner).  You can find a canine companion for a low adoption fee of $50 to $100 which includes spaying, all the way up to thousands of dollars, if you happen to fall in love with an expensive breed of dog that isn't easy to find. All I want to say about that in this article is DO YOUR HOMEWORK. If you want to adopt a shelter dog, deal with an ethical shelter that doesn't put dogs up for adoption if they know they bite (yes, many shelters have volunteers, or even paid behaviorists on staff now). But don't overlook the little country shelter, because their employees have often worked at the shelter for decades, and they probably feel they have a responsibility to the public to put only dogs whom they feel will make safe family companions up for adoption. Use common sense, and make sure you have educated yourself about the needs of different types of dogs. Because there is one big way a dog can break your heart---and that is if you get a dog that is not a match for your family and you have to return it.

Isn't this a special photo? Many thanks to Chris L'Abbe for sharing it with us. These two are definitely not racist, as these two breeds are quite different! Doggie love comes in many forms. I have seen Pit Bulls who had cats laying on their heads, and I have seen Great Danes that allowed Chihuahuas to boss them around!

I am grateful for all the dogs in my life, both past and present. I love unusually warm winter days, like today (almost 70 degrees!) where I can enjoy ALL my dogs, not just the two Standard Poodles who are my constant shadow. The dog who is my "forever foster" mixed breed dog is just as special as the retired champion Siberian husky, or the Australian Shepherd with his agility titles. They all love to play, they love attention, whether it is a special walk at a dog park, a day at the dog show, or simply running around in their fenced play yard, and checking in with me from time to time. Each dog is special in his own way. And yes, I confess, I still have six dogs,, half of which are seniors. I am blessed with a husband and a 25 year old son who help me care for them. I don't recommend that many dogs if you are a single dog owner, since dogs need lots of attention and the cost of things like veterinary bills and dog food continues to rise each year.

Because of an illness, I have not been as active blogging since 2010 as I was when I first started this blog years ago. However, if there is a dog-related subject you would like to read about, please just drop me a note at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  I may have a past article, or may have read someone else's writings and can send you a link---or, you may have a subject I would love to research for a future article. I wrote for many years for Hoflin Publishing's breed magazines (see my bio on the About Melanie link of my Knowing Dogs website link below my signature) and I do miss being a regular columnist.  Although I don't think the site has been revamped yet, I sold my Poodle blog over a year ago. If anyone has serious interest in this Knowing Dogs blog, again, just drop me an email.  I have invested quite a bit in the Knowing Dogs Blog through the years, but it may be time to let someone who is still doing DAILY hands-on dog training, or other dog-related work, take over the reins. Even if you have a dog related product to sell, a blog related website can be an excellent forum for marketing pet products.

Best wishes, and since it is coming up very soon, Happy Valentine's Day!  Don't forget, dogs love presents too!  Just make sure no chocolate, but buy fun dog toys or dog-specific treats for your special canine someone. And if you are blessed enough to have loved ones who are people, especially people who are dog lovers, don't forget them on Valentine's Day either! But don't get depressed if you are on a budget, since most dogs enjoy a carrot to chew on and to lay in your lap during movie time tonight as much as a fancy toy. Aren't dogs GREAT? Can you imagine what your human sweetheart would do if you opened the refirgerator and said "Here,honey, have a carrot, it's Valentine's day, I love you, let's watch TV tonight!" LOL, I told you a dog's love is easier to win!

Best wishes,


Melanie Schlaginhaufen



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Comments (2)
  • Debi Smith

    Love your blog today, Melanie. So true in so many ways. I have quit depending on people as much as I used to. If you don't expect as much, you aren't disappointed as often. Skeptical, yes, maybe I am, but it makes for less pain in the long run. The dogs offer much more comfort than their human counterparts. Having RA, I understand the need to sometimes just have someone "hear you". Hope today is a good day for you Melanie. Hug you dogs for me.

  • Melanie S  - Comment problems

    Hi Aunt Joni, and a couple of other friends who have tried to make comments on recent blog posts. We are having "technical difficulties". I don't even know if this comment can get published. Mommy says we are doing it as a "test".
    Our website person has run away. Maybe she doesn't like multi-colored Poodles? No, surely that is not it.
    But if you have posted a comment and it doesn't show up, please bear with us as we try to find someone to help us fix the "glitches" we are facing right now with the website.
    Thank you! Huddy

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