It’s a Dog’s Life

Just a dog or a loyal, loving companion? There are two kinds of people in the world; those that like dogs and those that do not.

Some people contend there are generally two kinds of people: those who like dogs and those who do not.

If that is true, this column is for the dog lovers of the world.

Pepper was an English Springer Spaniel. Twelve years old, white with black spots, long black ears, dark brown eyes and an instant friend to anyone who would condescend to stoop down and touch her coat. Like most Springers, she would “spring” when she walked. Normal walking was out of the question; she was always in a hurry to get to the next bird in the bushes or the next squirrel down the street.

She was also an important part of the daily daily news stories. When we first started the company, it was largely a result of getting used to retirement and deciding how to live life without having an office to go to or a regular job demanding time and attention.

Because I was now home during the day, Pepper concluded my time was hers. We quickly reached an accommodation. She would wait in a bed near the computer. No walks, no food and no disruptions until the daily e-mail went out for readers of

The adjustment took a little time but we both got used to it. She didn’t complain but would perk her ears at the first movement away from the computer to see if the time was up. The reward, for both of us, was to go for a long walk after the news went out.

The routine become so engrained neither one of us even thought about it anymore. When I went to the computer throughout the day to check e-mail or write another article, she would inevitably come along even in the afternoon when no walks or food would be forthcoming.

Like most good things, there is an ending. Pepper developed cancer and very quickly lost her will to live. Like many male baby boomers, I would prefer to think of myself as a Clint Eastwood macho male who doesn’t show emotion and takes things in stride. But taking Pepper to the vet one last time when it became apparent she was suffering and was rapidly dying was not my finest Clint Eastwood moment.

A friend once told me that a person becomes truly free when the last child goes off to college and the family dog dies.

There is a lot of truth in the statement. With no more tuition payments and now being a dog-free household, we are free to travel around without worrying about feeding or walking a dog or looking for a stand of bushes with the possibility of birds walking around on the ground.

On the other hand, having a canine companion who doesn’t ask for much but demonstrates why the most simple aspects of living can be a joy and a pleasure can make our own lives more enjoyable and give us some peace and contentment we might otherwise not have.

Unfortunately, it is sometimes more obvious in retrospect because we don’t fully appreciate the loyalty and companionship untll it isn’t there anymore.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47