What I’ve Learned from Smudge, Lola, and Dewey

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By: Kendle Frank, 16
Parker, Colorado

Dogs have been humanity’s loyal companions for thousands of years. They’ve been my best friends since I was 2 years old.

I can’t remember a time when canines weren’t a part of my life and one of my greatest passions. All my friends thought I was strange when I was a kid because instead of playing with dolls I only played with my stuffed dogs.

Not only have I always loved pooches, but I’ve also learned a lot from them, especially from my own three pets. Here are just a few of the lessons they’ve taught me:

A little puppy is a big job.

My family and I recently adopted a Keeshond puppy. We named her Smudge. She is young, playful, wild, clumsy, frisky, high maintenance, and downright adorable. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from Smudge is that puppies take a lot of work and responsibility. She needs to be cared for, played with, trained, and protected. But it’s worth it because the effort we put in now will turn her into the good dog she will grow up to be.

We all need a little silliness—and a puppy.

High school is very stressful, but adopting Smudge has shown me that there is nothing that relieves stress better than a pup. Playing with her every day has reminded me not to take things so seriously and live life more. Puppies are care-free with a constant playful mindset, which is very refreshing. I think everyone should surround themselves with dogs. Based on my experiences with Smudge, their wagging tails, smiling faces, and silly antics can completely lift your spirits.

Some things—like young Labs—can be out of your control.

My second dog, who I got in fifth grade, is my beautiful Labrador Retriever, Lola. Lola is the sweetest dog I have ever met. She is gentle with kids and dogs alike, athletic, and a self-taught huntress. The biggest lesson she’s taught me is that “stuff happens.” We adopted Lola from a rescue when she was 2-year-old. Even though she wasn’t a puppy, she often created a lot of mayhem. She has mellowed out a bit, but still occasionally decides to wreak havoc. We get frustrated with her, but we clean up her messes and move on. That’s what dogs do; they cause trouble.

The pack is a safe place.

Lola has also taught me that dogs always take care of their pack members. When I am with her, I always feel protected because she looks out for me.

Our dogs love us—a lot.

My first dog was a Pug named Dewey, who I got when I was 2 years old. He was a cute, goofy, quirky dog with a great personality. Most importantly, he was my best friend. We grew up together, and every day when I got home from school, he would cry and whine excitedly at my presence. For his whole life, up to his last day, he loved to snuggle and comfort me when I was upset. Even in his old age when he became blind, he would seek me out around the house just to cuddle. His devotion proved how much dogs love and care about their owners, which is probably why they’re the most popular pets. Dogs love their owners more than themselves; they love hard, unconditionally, and selflessly. Being loved by a dog is the most incredible feeling in the world. Having a best friend like Dewey for 13 years showed me how close people can be to their pets. Dewey has always been my favorite dog because he put my happiness first and made it clear he preferred me above everyone else in our household.

There’s nothing as sad as saying goodbye.

Dewey had diabetes and arthritis and was blind for a few years. On July 15th, 2017, we woke up to discover that Dewey had suffered a stroke in the middle of the night. I didn’t want to admit it, but it was time to end his misery. Putting Dewey to sleep was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. My heart was broken, but I knew I had to be there for him when he needed me most. Losing my best friend taught me the most painful and valuable lesson of all, that saying goodbye to an amazing friend is hard. Even though we made the right decision, mourning his death was difficult, and I still miss him very much. I will always miss him, but I know that he will forever be in my heart. Dogs are members of the family and when they pass it can be just as painful and sad as it would be if someone lost a human friend or family member. That shows how much dogs worm their way into our hearts.

Dogs make everything better.

Overall, dogs have shown me how incredible life is. The world is a messed-up place, but knowing how pure and special dogs are makes it more bearable. They have a zest for life that can melt the strongest of hearts. I often trust my dog’s judgments more than my own because, in my opinion, they are the best judges of character. My love for dogs has made my life a lot sunnier and passionate. Dogs make people happy and have even turned lives around. No wonder they are perhaps the most beloved and valuable creatures on Earth.

No day goes by that I take them for granted because they are truly amazing animals and friends.