Posted by: Mark | November 30, 2008

The Philosophical Joys of Owning a Puppy

My wife and I started Thanksgiving weekend the right way by getting a puppy. We are madly in love with the little guy, so much so that I started a bog for him. Now granted, I am trying to justify this obsession with the hope that I’ll get a lot of traffic, be able to charge advertisers, and then donate that money to the Daraja Academy….but I’m still making a blog for a puppy, spending time videoing, editing, and the posting.

This embarrassing confession aside, I am definitely convinced that owning a puppy is good for the soul, and not just because puppies happen to be too cute to believe. Throughout the weekend I have found pretty profound benefits of my puppy that are not summed up in little videos, and so I thought it was worth writing them up, if nothing else to feel like I have at least some ammo to explain how I’ve been feeling.

1. A puppy makes you laugh, and laughing is good for you. Last night we had friends over to help decorate our Christmas tree (mandatory side note: I hate the phrase “trim the tree,” thus I deliberately avoided it), but we spent almost the whole evening all together on the kitchen floor, laughing and laughing and laughing. Everyone walked out saying how much they needed that. Our little guy stumbles, flops around, snores, gives kisses, has wrinkles, you name it, and pretty much all of it brings a smile to your face. I remember reading in the book A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink that there are actual laughing clubs that meet in India to remind people of how important and healthy it is to laugh. You don’t need a club, just a puppy.

2. A puppy is entirely dependent on you. Therefore, you must become a little less selfish. We have woken up several times each night and have huddled out into the cold night in order to get him to pee so that he doesn’t have to do so in his bed. I’ve cleaned my kitchen floor more times this week than I have since we’ve lived here. This has been my first baby step into fatherhood, and for my wife, motherhood. I think when you have someone or something dependent upon you, you sacrifice time on the couch, or in the waves, or at least I sure as hell did. So then it gets me thinking. If I can give up time for a little puppy, then I can definitely give up time and energy for humanity, vast portions of which are so underprivileged and desperate that you could claim that as “dependent.” I think the selfishness that stems out of the father-like feelings that I have nurtured since the arrival of this puppy (my wife and I actually call each other Mommy and Daddy around the puppy) is a very good thing, something that I need to continue to nurture and grow.

3. A puppy reminds you of the simple enjoyment of life. The first weekend with the puppy also happens to coincide with the devastating and in many ways existential-crisis-inducing terrorist attacks in Mumbai. I am often a guy who finds myself rather personally affected by the news of the world, as I teach it in my classroom every day. It becomes hard to remember to be grateful for my fortunes when the lack-there-of for billions becomes suffocating. A puppy, however, is a great reminder of how exciting and wonderful it is to explore the world. He is always excited to try something new, isn’t afraid to show his enthusiasm for something as simple as chewing on tennis ball, and in general is the epitome of joie de vivre. A puppy experiences that blessed happiness due to massive ignorance, but us humans are not so lucky. However, the reminder of innocence that my puppy demonstrates is a great reminder to me that life is unfair for many, but it’s also wonderful and beautiful.

So you know what? I’m not ashamed to be in love with that little puppy of mine. Sure it’s a bit over the top, but it’s also really good for me, and it would be good for you too. So get yourself a puppy.


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