Someone famous, whose name presently escapes me, said that the average dog is nicer than the average human.
I would have to agree.
In most of the homes we visit as CHRPA volunteers, the owners have at least one dog—some several. These dogs come in as wide a variety of sizes, styles and personalities as do the owners themselves. Some live in pristine homes, some in homes that are candidly in rough shape inside and out.
Sometimes with our clients, it is difficult not to engage in an internal monologue that questions, “I wonder what it’s like to live like this?” For those with pets, the question goes further: One wonders, if the homeowners are experiencing so much struggle with basic needs, how and why do they have a pet? Rationally, it seems someone with scant means would not want to assume the burden of more bellies to fill, more medical problems to worry about, or another being to be responsible for.
On reflection though, it is likely that the owners’ often lonely existence is exactly why they have canine companions. Whatever the owners’ financial, social or emotional state, a dog brings to their home and to their life more than just companionship. A dog brings a non-judgmental friend who does not know or care about the chaos in which its owners live. The dog loves its owners regardless of whatever brought or keeps its owners and its home in a state of disrepair. For humans, such lack of judgment is almost impossible.
What we do as CHRPA volunteers falls generally under the broad heading of “good deeds” in Hebrew, a simplistic translation of “mitzvot”. Dogs, in these homes, are living mitzvot. These dogs serve a “higher purpose” in slathering their special loyalty and love on all of us regardless of triumph or failure, effort or sloth, king or pauper. A dog in the home of most of us is an added joy, an enrichment, even in my case, a significant part of my life’s history. In the homes of some of our CHRPA clients, the dog is all of that, but also a life raft of emotional security in a tumultuous sea, an anchor of loyalty, and a port of constancy.