From time to time, I’ve heard said, “lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or “that’s a lot of money for just a dog.” Those who said it don’t understand how pleasurable the distance traveled and the time spent with just a dog can be. In an eventful life, some of my most fun moments have come about with just a dog. Since becoming a full-time writer, many hours during my work day have passed and my only company was just a dog, but I did not once feel slighted. Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by the loss of just a dog, and in those dark moments (or any bad day), the gentle touch of just a dog gave me comfort.
If you, too, think it’s just a dog, then you probably understand phrases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.” JUST is a word often used to qualify, disparage and demean. It frequently, as it does in the opening sentence above, marginalizes the subject of what is said immediately following it. In this little piece, I choose to stress it as wonder at how much I gain from just a dog.
In truth, just a dog brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. Just a dog brings out the compassion and patience that make me a better person. For me and folks like me, it’s not just a dog but an embodiment of fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment. Just a dog brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.
I hope that others someday can understand that it’s not just a dog but–along with how I feel about being a father–an important relationship that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a man.”
So, the next time you hear the phrase just a dog, smile at what they’re missing out on because they “just don’t understand.”
By the way, here’s my dogs: Sable Margaret Lowery (left) and Murphy Finnegan Lowery (right):