By Robert Lucke
You may love the outdoors, love walking along the meadows of Beaver Creek Park, and enjoy seeing all that nature has to offer. Or, on the other hand, you may be pretty nearly housebound and your walking days are far behind. Chances are, in both of these scenarios your life would be fuller with the addition of a dog.
There are families in this neck of the woods that actually share dogs. One family west of Havre waits patiently for the neighbor's dog to visit. When the dog does come padding up the steps of their deck, their eyes just glow with love and excitement. The dog spends several hours with them, then plods back home and maybe returns in the afternoon. One thing is so apparent about this happening: This retriever has an enormous reservoir of love, plenty for two families, and if a third were available, he would probably take them on as well.
There are so many different types of dogs to choose from that the sky is the limit. Some are free and others cost an arm and a leg. Some are trainable and some aren't. However, all add warmth and even more love to a household, particularly if they are inside and members of the family just like everyone else.
A good place to begin looking for that special dog is the local dog pound. It is very special to rescue a dog, destined to become a very good friend, from the doggie gallows. Sometimes those make the very best dogs of all.
And from one who has had beagles, retrievers, dachshunds, spaniels and mutts, all have their strong and weak points. But all were as good a friend as anyone could ever desire and that was through thick and thin.
Amazing, though, how those dogs can share their love with as many families as they are around. Amazing creatures, those friendly dogs, friends who can enrich the lives of the whole family.
Cats, too. Wasn't it Voltaire who said, "To know a cat is to know democracy?" Talk to a cat person for a couple of minutes and he will have you convinced that a cat should be a welcome addition to your life.
The bottom line is, especially these days of fragmented families and family members who live far away from each other, not only can that dog or cat close the loneliness gap, but it can add measurably to the day-to-day quality of life.