Image for An Ode to Dogs and Sharing on Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a holiday for sharing. There is no better way to celebrate than to share life with a dog.

A Holiday for Sharing with Our Furry, Wet-Nose, Abandoned Companions

Following longstanding Thanksgiving tradition, President Biden pardoned two turkeys – Liberty and Bell. Another longstanding tradition is just as heartwarming – adopting abandoned dogs.

Sometimes abandoned dogs wind up in animal shelters. Other times they are left to fend for themselves on lonely roads or back alleys. These dogs can be scruffy, stinky and insect-infested. But for those with eyes and a love of animals, they are mostly lonely and forlorn, like any other castaway.

We think of Thanksgiving as a time for families to come together, eat a meal and bask in togetherness that even a cranky uncle cannot disrupt. Thanksgiving is also a time for sharing – warmth, happiness and love. There can be no better example of sharing than adopting an abandoned dog.

My Facebook page brims with compelling stories about dog rescues. The dogs range from huge to tiny. But their eyes are like powerful magnets to anyone who bothers to look into them and open their heart.

Being loved by a dog is a boost for a sagging ego or a lonely soul.

Dogs are abandoned for all sorts of reasons. They get old and lame. They need expensive medical care. They bark too much. They cost too much to feed. They bite. When you think of it, those are similar to reasons why people become homeless. Dogs don’t abandon their people who are homeless.

We undervalue dogs as just pets. They are often much more. They are companions, playmates, fellow mischief makers, alarm clocks, warning signs and best friends. It is dogly for breeds such as Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds to adopt other dogs and even other animals such as ducklings, possums and cats.

Humans and dogs share a common trait that we selfishly call human. They like company, treats, games, tricks, nuzzles and affection. They can be social, stand-offish and clownish. They can adore some people and sniff off others.

What bonds people and dogs is a need to belong. Some dogs rise to the level of service dogs but almost all dogs, except perhaps handbag dogs, like to be useful, even if it’s just putting their chin on a lonely person’s lap. For families with young children, dogs can be their tender or fierce protectors.

They mirror humans in their sense of adventure. People may be distracted by what they see. Dogs are distracted by what they smell. It can be the perfect partnership.

Being loved by a dog is a boost for a sagging ego or a lonely soul. A friendly, well-timed lick can wash away a lot of sorrow. A human spirit can be buoyed by the bouncy step of a dog on a walk to new places and new scents.

While all dogs are special in their own way, there is much unlocked potential in stray or abandoned dogs. They’ve been around and seen things. They can appreciate a cozy bed, a warm fire and real food. Their pet parents may be the first humans they have ever known who were kind, friendly and loving.

Because dogs can’t talk, they aren’t able to describe where they’ve been, what they’ve endured and whether they have been abused. They do something better. They show their appreciation by bringing a stick, sniffing out a mouse or barking at danger. They are willing to dedicate their day to be by your side and sleep near you at night. They will go where you go, sleep when you’re gone and jump for joy when you return.

Dogs have a loyalty streak to the humans who befriend them. They have been many examples of their loyalty when a shelter dog refuses to be adopted without his shelter buddy.

So, regardless whether you have a house full of family and friends for Thanksgiving or will spend the day alone, don’t overlook the dog at your side – or that could be at your side if you look for him or her.

One of the fondest memories and friendships you can experience in life has four legs, penetrating eyes, wet noses, impish habits and a wagging tail. They can be your best furry buddy. The trick is you have to find them because they have no way to find you. If you are lonely this holiday, friendship can be as near as an animal shelter.