Dear Sean

I got a letter from a boy named Jason, in Albuquerque, who asked if I think he should adopt a puppy. He’s got his eye on a border collie mix from a shelter. Jason wants to name this dog Teddy. Or possibly Frank.

First off, Jason, thank you for the message. Fuzzy puppies are exactly what I need to be thinking about tonight. I’m grateful you brought up the subject. The world is an ever-loving mess right now, and canines are good medicine.

So to give you the short answer in case you’re pressed for time: Yes. Get the puppy.

Now here’s a longer answer:

A puppy is not a puppy. A puppy is a baby. A real, living, breathing, delicate infant. True, it’s a dog-baby, but it’s still a baby. This baby requires your whole heart. Not just half.

Now before you nod your head and agree with me, I want you to think about this for a second. You’re a 13-year-old kid. Are you ready to raise a real baby?

Having an infant in the house is not easy. Ask any saggy-eyed parent of a newborn. Being a parent is a full-time, round-the-clock, lifetime gig. You do not get time off. There is going to be a lot of pee involved.

Border collies can live 17 years. This means you could be a dog daddy until you are 30 years old. By then you might be married and have a big fat adjustable-rate mortgage.

If you decide you are ready, are you prepared to say goodbye to things like free time, peace and quiet, and regular sleep?

Because your dog will sleep on your bed. Always. End of story. There is nothing you can do to stop a dog from claiming your bed. All night he will constantly be readjusting himself, engaging in acts of personal hygiene, keeping you awake, and nudging you off your mattress. And if you’d prefer for your dog to sleep on a doggie bed, please read this paragraph again.

Secondly, a dog will ruin your stuff. I currently have two dogs named Thelma Lou and Otis Campbell. If you were to visit my house in the middle of the day you’d find it very tranquil and serene, with floppy-eared dogs snoring all day.

Why are they sleeping in the middle of the afternoon? How are they so tired when all they do is eat and poop? I will tell you why. Because at bedtime their bodies become inhabited by nocturnal demons.

At night my dogs go slap crazy and try to destroy our house. They conduct professional wrestling matches in the living room. We often hear furniture getting rearranged and 90-pound bodies slamming into walls.

Many times I have gotten out of bed to find broken lamps, gas stoves on fire, vomit-soaked shoes, chewed eyeglasses, and wee wee on books I authored.

Even so, having a dog is pure joy. Namely, because dogs see this world differently than we do. Mankind views this world as something to conquer; to fight over; to gripe about; to own. A dog sees this world as a multi-sensory fiesta of experiences.

To a dog, Earth is smells, tastes, sounds, good friends, squirrels, and endless opportunities to beg for food.

A dog “gets it,” Jason. Far better than we do. Dogs aren’t as simple minded as some make them out to be.

Recently, some neuroscientists in Loránd University in Budapest scanned the brains of 13 dogs with MRI machines and discovered that dogs actually understand our words.

During this study, dog trainers spoke common phrases to their dogs, using no particular intonation. And do you know how the dogs responded? That’s right. The dogs peed on the MRI machines.

No. I’m only kidding! Kind of!

What really happened was that the dogs’ brains lit up like aircraft landing lights. Especially in the left hemisphere regions.

What does this mean? It means that your dog understands what’s being said in much the same way a human does. It means that having a dog is not merely owning a pet. You are dealing with a creature that feels, thinks, and is capable of feeling rejection, neglect, disappointment, sadness, and the sting of harsh words.

It’s going to take a lot of kindness, patience, and plenty of plain old love to raise this puppy. Come to think of it, this whole world could use those virtues right now.

That said, there is nothing better than having a dog. I have had the pleasure of loving several. And every dog I ever knew burrowed its way into my soul and taught me to be a nicer person.

A few days ago, for instance, I went through a very rough personal moment that upset me. It doesn’t matter what happened, but something put me in a crummy mood. I went into our backyard to pout for a little bit. But I was followed by a 90-pound animal who refused to let me be in a funk.

This creature leapt into my lap, cut off my circulation, and licked my face until I was laughing so hard my abdominal muscles burned. And when my sadness had dissipated, I looked this dog in her eyes and realized that this creature is a true gift.

So do I think you should do it? Yes.

Anything that brings more love into this tired and lonely world is highly needed right now.

31 comments

  1. Paul McCutchen - September 7, 2021 12:50 pm

    Animals are like therapist so sometimes they want to get paid. Mine usually get dog biscuits.

    Reply
  2. Deanna - September 7, 2021 12:54 pm

    One of our best dogs was a border collie/springer spaniel mix. She went over the Rainbow Bridge at 17 years of age. Our whole street mourned when she left us. She was a one of a kind. Get the dog Jason

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  3. Joyce Anders - September 7, 2021 12:55 pm

    I was distressed when i couldn’t find your post this morning, as reading it is part of my morning ritual. It finally appeared and I was very relieved…and happy to know that a young boy 👦 would probably be getting his dog. Thank you for being part of my day.

    Reply
  4. Linda - September 7, 2021 1:02 pm

    This is great..true facts, sweet and funny..I hope Jason will find a true friend, for life!! ♥️

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  5. Marykay Evans - September 7, 2021 1:04 pm

    Truer words have never been spoken!!❤️

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  6. Joan Moore - September 7, 2021 1:15 pm

    True words spoken by a true dog lover. I would expand on this, but I hear my best friend scratching to get back in the house after her morning swim in the bog.

    Reply
  7. Suzanne Cahill - September 7, 2021 1:26 pm

    Truth. ALL of it!

    Reply
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  9. Shelton A. - September 7, 2021 1:37 pm

    Yes, get the puppy. Be prepared for late night gotta go pee times (crate train your puppy). When the puppy learns to go outside (reward each time the pup does what you want-no pee in the house-and the dog quickly learns. After crate training works its magic, the dog will claim your bed. Be prepared for lots of exercise…Border Collies are great dogs but they’ve got lots of energy. 2 walks, long ones, each day plus playtime in your back yard. Best of luck and you’re going to get a ton of love!

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  10. Martha Owens - September 7, 2021 1:39 pm

    Jason should get the puppy. He will be a better person as he continues to grow, and the puppy will always be there for him.

    Reply
  11. mtnhorserider - September 7, 2021 1:53 pm

    Right on point! Dogs are a responsibility. All investments of time and money with this dog will be returned tenfold. I found a Golden Retriever for adoption at the worst point of time possible. My mom had just had a heart attack and admitted to the hospital the prior day. I went back and forth for a day about why I shouldn’t get her. But the instant I saw her, Kaya, I knew. No, for the first four weeks while my mom was in ICU was not the best time for Kaya or myself. But Kaya was my angel, my therapist and best friend during this time. I lost my mom and Kaya was there to lick the tears and hear a grown man cry. Kaya was four years old when she rescued me. I had her for ten years and she made me better. I lost Kaya about two years ago this week. Get the puppy. You’ll be a better person if you live to the pup’s expectations of you.

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  12. Suellen - September 7, 2021 1:55 pm

    I’ve had dogs my whole life. My husband and I have reached a point in our lives where we don’t think it’s fair to bring anymore dogs into our lives when they may outlive us. When these two are gone we’re going to be dogless and I don’t know how I’m going to be able to deal with that.

    Reply
  13. Te - September 7, 2021 2:07 pm

    You should add that dogs don’t know that cars will kill them, and playing in the road is verbotten, that they will eat stuff that will make a billy goat puke and require surgery to remove, including their own poop, and will shed on everything. As a (small) dog rescuer and foster for many years, I have picked up mangy pups off the side of the road, taken broken animals to the vet, and cried over the losses, and felt relieved joy when one got adopted. I speak dog. I foster abandoned blind seniors, coddle them and protect them until they finally die. I can’t save them all. Life without a dog lacks a certain spice that only dogs have – and it smells a lot like pee! I know one immutable truth: Dogs know how to love better than any animal on earth, including mankind.

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  14. Kay - September 7, 2021 2:12 pm

    Sean, I was worried about you–receiving this post so late. Glad to see that your dogs are taking care of you

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  15. Brenda Ireland - September 7, 2021 2:12 pm

    Soooo true! I loved every word you wrote! I am an adopted child of a mom who was like Dr Doolittle… animals were drawn to her and she to them! We brought home every animal we found and they were nursed back to health and allowed to stay if they chose too! Mallard ducks, blue jays, bunnies, guinea pigs, raccoons, and numerous cats and dogs! I totally agree with you. Love love love ❣️❣️❣️❣️❣️

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  16. Bar - September 7, 2021 2:37 pm

    Test

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  17. Southern Girl - September 7, 2021 2:40 pm

    Dogs = one of God’s greatest gifts and examples of unconditional love.

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  18. Brenda - September 7, 2021 3:53 pm

    PeaceLoveJoy

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  19. Karen Snyder - September 7, 2021 3:54 pm

    Absolutely, unequivocally yes! Adopt the dog! ❤️

    Reply
  20. Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - September 7, 2021 3:59 pm

    So we’ll said!

    Reply
  21. Linda Moon - September 7, 2021 4:13 pm

    Wow. Jason made me think about my border collie mix. I’m glad I saw him and brought him home. He lived for 18 years. He understood and heard words, and when he could no longer hear he learned American Sign Language. My son’s two 90-pound dogs make me feel good when I’m with them. So, I’m glad my son taught ASL to my dog, and if I can teach anything to his very large dogs it will be: Don’t crush my bones while you’re on my lap getting family love and hugs! It’s been a while since I’ve heard from Thelma Lou and Otis Campbell! Hugs to all of you!

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  22. Mike Bone - September 7, 2021 4:32 pm

    Amen!

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  23. Chris Swain - September 7, 2021 5:35 pm

    I know one thing for sure after reading this, you get it. Here’s to your Mayberry canines.

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  24. Debbie g - September 7, 2021 6:26 pm

    Anyone that loves animals so much is a best friend of mine So love to Jamie Sean Jason. Jesus. Etc…….

    Reply
  25. Betty - September 7, 2021 6:26 pm

    I hope you didn’t scare Jason too much with your dogs night time antics. Our dog was the opposite. When he was ready for bed he let everyone know. If we had company he would head down the hall to the bedroom. He would come back in a few minutes & stand in the doorway & stare at our guests. He would repeat this until they got the message that it was time to leave. Yes he slept with us sometimes but he had his own bed & pillow on the floor & also slept on the bed in the guest bedroom. Our neighbors dog lets her know he’s tired & when she asks him if it is time for bed he gets in his crate. But whatever, Jason, get the puppy.

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  26. Cheryl Andrews - September 7, 2021 10:08 pm

    Ain’t that the truth! Love this! Thanks again!

    Reply
  27. Ray Huckabone - September 8, 2021 12:43 am

    We have two hounds that shower us with love. Sure there is work and the bed gets small but it is all worth it. Good luck Jason.

    Reply
  28. MAM - September 8, 2021 2:00 am

    I miss our dogs, but I’m “grandma” to the next-door neighbor dog, so I get to pet him whenever I see him. We’ve finally gotten most of the pee spots out of the carpet after our Lab died earlier this year. So I don’t miss that part. But losing them is the hardest. Jason, you’re young. Get the puppy!

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  29. Patricia Gibson - September 8, 2021 7:57 pm

    There is nothing like a dog❤️❤️❤️

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  30. DEBORAH Andrade - September 16, 2021 3:08 am

    I love all your stories but I love this one the most. ❤❤

    Reply
  31. Bill Harris - September 17, 2021 12:40 am

    Thank you Sean. We have 6 rescued dogs, 2 golden retrievers, Goldie and Weezy, a yellow lab, Honey, a beagle, Daisy, a beagle/basset mix, Sugar and our only boy Brody who is a yorkie. Your story is true. Word for word.

    Reply

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