Over the last few days, news programs have offered a scene that can’t help but make me stop and smile. A black Labrador Retriever jumps on a sled and rides down a long, snow-covered hill, wagging its tail with happiness. I’ve seen it a number of times and it always gives me a chuckle. Dogs will do that. Think of how many times you see a dog leaning out a car window, the wind blowing in its face, the picture of sheer joy. A couple of friends of mine walk another friend’s dog every day and have commented that people that they see on the walk are more apt to smile and make eye contact when they see the pup scampering along with them.

Dogs have such a love of life.

I remember hearing that golden retrievers were specially trained to offer grief therapy to people who had suffered emotionally from the effects of 9-11. The program showed the dogs charging into a room and covering with kisses each person they saw. Retrievers don’t need to be trained to do that. They are full of unconditional love and always looking for someone to spread it on.

We always had dogs and I miss not having one, but my husband and I agreed that we (he) didn’t want to have to walk it every day, several times a day any more. When I hear about the Obama daughters looking to cash in on their father’s promise of a dog after the election, I thinks that’s cute, but somebody is going to have to walk that dog and scoop the poop from the White House grounds once it takes up residence. I imagine that will probably be one of the duties of the Secret Service. And there will always be someone to watch the dog when the family goes on vacation.

My married children all have dogs. One is a Chesapeake Bay retriever who opens the sliding doors to let the cats in and out. Another is a yellow Lab who lives compatibly with three cats and a hermit crab. Yet another is a shelter dog who is skittish and can’t be touched if she’s under the dining room table. My dad had a seeing-eye dog, a very high-strung shepherd who did not care much for me and my siblings. She adored my father and the devotion was mutual. When he died she mourned for a year and then died herself of a broken heart.

A friend of mine once said “You only get one good dog.” My experience was that there certainly was only one “best dog in the whole wide world.” And if he heard that phrase when he was in a deep sleep, his tail would flop flop flop in acknowledgement.

Dogs will keep you warm at night without hogging all the covers.

Dogs will let you coo and talk baby talk to them. Dogs know what w-a-l-k spells.