by Allen Laudenslager
My dog is my hero without doing the things that most people would think of as heroic. All he did was be a dog. Like all dogs he delivered unconditional love at a time when I felt very unlovable.
Why I felt unlovable really doesn't matter. In fact, it didn't matter to Nanuq either. All he cared about was that he was with me and that walks and meals were more or less on time.
Just by needing my care and attention, somebody had to let him out to do his business, someone had to get the food into his food bowl and put down fresh water. He can't do it for himself - no thumbs.
I couldn't indulge myself in self-pity while he needed to be cared for. As you can see from the picture, it's hard to be sad when faced with that smile.
Everyday he just kept being himself. Interested in every new smell and demanding long walks (at least longer than I wanted) to explore the new place we found ourselves living. He helped force me beyond my comfort zone and by just expecting me to take care of him taught me that my limits were not real, only self imposed false limitations.
When he wakes me up at 2 a.m. barking at the thunder and I can't go back to sleep I have to get out of myself and love him because his barking is just his fear of that strange noise. All he needs is my reassurance that he is safe and protected.
In reassuring him and protecting him I reassured and protected myself. Without his unconditional love I would have taken much longer to heal.
Besides any dog that will do things like this will always make me cheer up!
Postscript: Nanuq was a gift for my 60th birthday; I had him for nine years. In 2014 Nanuq passed away from liver cancer. If there's a doggy heaven, he certainly deserved to go there.