The sign outside the pet store read “Puppies, “ so of course I had to stop. This shop is a small rural pet store that only occasionally has puppies, relying on reputable, local breeders. It is rare to see such a sign and even more rare to actually see the puppies outside in an x-pen while it is winter. But the sun was shining, the snow melting and there sat two little beagle puppies leaping at each other and barking at passersby.
I knew I shouldn’t take the time to stop. I had been working all day at Books-A-Million’s café, writing my article on fallout from the national housing bubble burst and had only stepped out long enough to grab a bite to eat, but they don’t call puppies irresistible for nothing. So I jumped out of the car and grabbed my camera to snap a picture of the energetic balls of cuteness, when I looked up and saw another matched set. Parked alongside the road, overlooking the puppies was a pickup truck and staring out from the open window were two handsome bulldogs observing the puppies’ antics.
I pointed my lens toward the truck, peered through the glass at the driver inside and raised my camera ever so slightly to ask permission to take a picture. He nodded and smiled and I snapped away. The two remained stoic, never changing their expression while the puppies scampered beneath them.
I smiled and watched, stooping to pet the puppies. The smile was on my face, but I felt it spread throughout my body. Although snow still covered the ground, you could feel the hand of spring upon us. It was evident in the sun grazing the bulldog’s coats and skimming the heads of the frolicking beagle pups and in my own weary body that suddenly felt rejuvenated. Sitting at a small café coffee table for two days writing about sub-prime lending and foreclosures had taxed my spirits, but standing outside in the marriage of sun and snow, surrounding my canine bliss, I felt suddenly lighter. I had to return to the café and my work, but I returned refreshed. Studies show that dogs can reduce stress and lower blood pressure, they can transform the mundane into the lighthearted – a few moments spent with them and I was ready to face my reams of notes and statistics.
People question the meaning of animals in our lives and why they have risen to hold such a prominent place in our hearts. I can only speak for myself, but I know what I love so much about my pugs and dogs in general. Like children they exist in the moment, dwelling outside the past and the future. They pull us into the present and hold us there. I worry and I toil far too often. They play bow and wag their tails. When we are with them they train us to do the same.