denisebonsaifleckHad I written this 20 years ago, I would have said that the dogs I was blessed to share my life with were my best friends, companions, therapists, fellow adventurers and keepers of secrets, but I now know they are my teachers and so much more.  As the Pet Safety Crusader™, I fly around the country teaching pet safety and better parenting skills, but dogs are the ones with super powers as they help us live life to the fullest and become better humans if only we take the time to watch and learn.

By following their wisdom of living in the moment, my amazing canine pals have made me feel…feel joy, feel love & compassion as well as heartbreak when I’ve had to say final goodbyes to them.  Gazing into the brown almond-shaped eyes of my Akita Bonsai let me know she felt joy and love too and allowed us to connect beyond the fur and flesh, rejoicing in the forever bond of each moment in time together.  When our 15-year-old Sheltie Duchess passed in her sleep, our black Labrador Mr. Rico gently sniffed her bedside with concern while Border Collie Rex peered from the doorway and ventured no closer.  Dogs feel pain and grief, expressing it different ways, but aren’t malicious nor judgmental.

 Like Sushi before her, Bonsai had a grizzly exterior, but was amongst the most loving and loyal creatures to walk this earth. You really ‘Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover” and became the title of the children’s book series my dogs compelled me to write.  It encourages humans to look for the treasure underneath the fur color, advancing years and breed-specific stereotypes. My childhood Great Dane Ulysses taught me to love other species, great and small, by covering teeth with his lips when playing and allowing me to grab tight his brindle-patterned fur to lift myself to walk. From him I also learned tolerance when this gentle giant wagged at smaller growling pups.

 My first adopted stray, Blondie, won my dad over with understanding and devotion when he asked her, ‘Where’s Denise,” and she showed him where 10-year-old me had gone briefly missing. Sunny the yellow Lab, inspired by my 2nd career, and when she passed away, it drained my soul but that moment showed me how special humans can be too! As she crossed the Rainbow Bridge, my amazing veterinarian, Dr. Marty Small, listened with his stethoscope and said ‘She’s with the angels.’  His words gave me great comfort and made me cherish the importance of compassion.  His words made me cognizant of never losing patience with my canine kids as they get infirm or make mistakes, but rather lovingly help them through.

As the saying goes, “I want to be the person my dog thinks I am” for dogs are my super heroes.  They make me feel invincible, remind me of joys in the simple things and boost my confidence with their admiration.  My canine kids have made my life better just by being in it.  I can’t imagine a life without dogs!