When my husband and I got married, I told him that we needed a dog. I’m sure there are those of you out there who know exactly what that need feels like; it is a hole in your heart that can only be filled properly with wet-nose kisses, happy tail wags, and muddy paw prints. We started doing some research, looked into several rescue agencies in Virginia and Kibeth, our malinois/border collie rescue, made her way into our new little family.
Now, I’ve been around dogs my entire life, and I can honestly state that I have never met a pup as odd and withdrawn as the little brownish/black leggy creature that took up residence in the corner of our living room. We tried everything to relieve her anxiety. She was intelligent, but she was so shut down and internalized, nothing got through to her little soul. Every time we left the apartment, she would erupt into full freak out mode; it legitimately sounded like someone was murdering our dog as soon as we closed the door. Separation anxiety became the biggest stressor in our lives, and we tried everything to defeat it. Nothing worked until…
We brought Kibeth to a puppy play date set up by the local pet store and decided to slowly introduce her to other dogs. As soon as she met a few of the other emotionally healthy pups there, the joy buried so deep within our little girl surfaced, and she became a whole new dog. I watched with tears in my eyes as the closed off, unresponsive little pup we had adopted slowly opened up.
After a few more puppy dates, we ended up adopting a second puppy who reinvigorated the lack of joy within our Kibeth, and who became the driving force behind Kibeth rediscovering what it meant to be a dog. As I am writing this, I am watching her run around the back yard playing “keep away” with her little brother, eyes alight with happiness, soul reveling in the joy of the sunshine and wind.
I know, I know, it was a little bit of a long story, and if you stuck with me and are still reading, thank you! Our time with Kibeth has been challenging, but she has taught me so much, including the vital importance of finding joy in the little things of the world.
Dogs are very sensory creatures; most people know that dogs experience the world primarily through their noses and ears. While a dog may not see your tears, they can sense your sadness or anxiety. They may not be able to understand the destination, but they are still usually excited to go on the journey. I firmly believe that this special intuition makes them exceptionally empathetic creatures, which, I believe, is directly linked to their ability to love unconditionally and to find happiness in the simple things.
One of my favorite quirks about Kibeth is that when she finds a spot of particularly thick, luscious grass, she looks at me, flops over, and rolls around in the grass like a horse. She does the same thing at the beach in the sand and, despite how I dread giving her the bath afterwards, I love watching her roll. It looks absolutely ridiculous, but it will also make me smile no matter how sad I am. I think my dog knows that, and uses it, because when I am particularly down, she does it more often and will glance up to me as if to say, “Come on human, find your happiness!”
Whether it is happiness in the form of their usual kibble or joy at discovering some new unknown smell, dogs find joy in everything. Do you have a dog who enjoys fetch? Next time you play with him or her, watch their face just before you release the ball. Unadulterated anticipation. Next time you come home, notice the happiness your dog emits as you walk in the door. Pure, unrestrained joy. Dogs are some of the only creatures on earth who express their emotions with every ounce of their body. Tail up and wagging, mouth open and wide, eyes bright and happy, ears perked and up: these are all expressions of joy.
We all need to take a note from our furry companions, especially in this world of sorrow and dismay, and find joy in the little things of life.
Do you own a happy pup with quirks? What are some that make you smile the most? Comment below and share the joy!
Hailing from sunny Southern California, Brianna is a Registered Nurse, former dog foster mom, and Marine Corps spouse. She enjoys beach trips, hikes, and any other various adventures with her two rescue pups, Kibeth and Ajax, as well as writing or reading about anything canine.
Dogs give us the purest physical example of unconditional love and pure unadulterated joy in the world.