When I look at an old dog staring out of the window at the doggy loft, I see someone who understands loyalty. The older dog has experienced what it feels like to be a part of a team. They know what it means to be able to depend on someone. I sense they are feeling the loss and it breaks my heart. My compassionate response is to give that old dog all the love and affection they can tolerate, to show them that they weren't wrong to trust us. I feel compelled to step up and show them their loyalty is valued, even more than love.
Mandy is an old dog at Muttville who understands loyalty. I took her out for a walk one morning and her focus wasn't on peeing, it was finding a certain someone or their car. We race-walked down the street pausing at every, single, parked car. She determinedly sniffed each door and tire before moving down the row. I asked her repeatedly to please go potty, because it was nicer for us all if she did her business outside, rather than in the doggy loft among the other dogs. She ignored me. She had priorities.
I don't know many cocker spaniels but I do recognize loyalty, and what it means to be part of a team.
I played mostly team sports growing up. My teammates could depend on me to show up, work hard, and be ready. Mandy showed the same characteristics, only in dog form. I watched her in action.
She doesn't show much interest in the other dogs, instead you'll find her lying near the feet of a staff member or one of us volunteers. Her body is saying, "I'm ready, whenever you are!" When she isn't doing that, I'll see her at the window checking out the activities on the street, or at the loft door because something is happening on the other side. She's working hard to stay on top of business, because that's what team players do.
Mandy is reliable. Even as my old dog went through her aging process, she never stopped showing us her commitment to the team, her family. Experiencing loyalty, from an old dog, is an incredible feeling.
You feel as if you've won the lottery and every major prize in the world. I imagine it's what soldiers mean when they describe the camaraderie within their units.
If you get a chance to have an old dog, or spend time with them like I do volunteering, see if you recognize the signs of how they display loyalty. It'll be worth it because it's usually harder to identify than affection.
Tell me, in the comments, if you had to choose, would you prefer unconditional love, or loyalty from a dog?