Columnist Note:  My apologies to Morris Workman for ignoring his rule regarding not using data that can’t be properly sourced.     

During my youth, I heard the same tale many times, on many different front porches and each time the person telling the tale claimed to personally know the family involved.   Sixty years later, I was surprised to hear a friend sharing the same tale with a group of folks on my back patio.  Obviously, there is no way I can properly source the tale or verify that the event actually took place.  But I believe that the tale is worth sharing.

A veterinarian was asked to make a house call and examine a very sick, ten-year-old dog who was the best buddy of the owners’ seven year old son.  Sadly, the veterinarian found that the dog was dying of cancer and offered to perform a euthanasia procedure.   

The owners decided that it would be good for their young son to observe the procedure. The next day, as the family gathered for the procedure, the son sat at the dog’s head, calmly petting him one last time. Within a few minutes the old dog slipped peacefully away and the child seemed to accept the transition without difficulty or confusion. 

After the procedure, the grown-ups wondered aloud about the sad fact that animals have shorter life spans than humans.  The child, who had been listening quietly, spoke up, ”I know why.” The adults were stunned when he continued, ”People have to learn how to love everybody all the time and to be nice to each other. Well, dogs are born knowing how to do this, so they don’t have to stay on earth as long.” This wise child instinctively knew that humans can learn a lot from their canine friends.

I agree that humans can learn a great deal from dogs.  Here are a few examples:

  • Live simply – Love generously – Care deeply – Speak kindly – Be loyal.
  • Never pretend to be something you’re not.
  • Never pass up the opportunity to go for a long walk. Or, better yet, go for a joyride and experience the pure ecstasy of fresh air and wind in your face.
  • Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
  • When loved ones come home, run to them and greet them with affection.
  • Thrive on attention.
  • Take naps – Stretch before rising – Run, romp, and play daily.
  • When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
  • When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close and nuzzle them gently.

My dog, Barron, taught me as much about as any human I ever knew.  He fully enjoyed and freely gave affection, kisses, cuddles, attention.  He taught me that no words are required to exchange the deep love in one’s heart.

Like my dog, I’m happiest when I’m surrounded by those who are kind, who focus on the good in life and who show their affection.  Perhaps each of us should try to, “Love everybody all the time and be nice to each other.”

Betty Freeman Haines, an author and award winning columnist, lives in Mesquite, NV.  Her books/e-books, Reluctant Hero and Grieving Sucks or Does It, can be ordered from