Want to know the reasons dogs are happier than people? I’ll give you eight reasons why and I’m sure you’ll agree!
8 Reasons Dogs Are Happier Than People
Anyone who has spent much time around dogs knows one thing for sure—dogs are happy creatures. I sometimes joke that if you look up the word “happy” in the dictionary, there will be a picture of a dog instead of a definition—just a mug shot of a big goofy animal with its tongue hanging out of the side of its mouth and laughter in its eyes. Just like my Golden Retriever.
It isn’t just Goldens, though. I once stopped at a wilderness lodge to trade in some outdoor gear I had purchased, and could hardly get anything done. Instead, I was waylaid by a friendly pit bull who brought me her prized Frisbee and would not take no for an answer. I spent the next half hour playing with an exuberant dog.
I used to know a Pomeranian that bounded onto the couch with such joy and enthusiasm that it was impossible to be grouchy or sad in her presence.
Dogs so often radiate so much joy that it’s easy to imagine that they are happier than people. Maybe they are. And if that’s true, here are eight things that make dogs happy. And it might even be possible for us humans to learn a few tricks of happiness from our canine companions.
1. Dogs live in the moment.
They don’t brood about what happened last week, and they don’t fret about what might be around the corner. It is all about right now. If a dog is doing something great right at this minute, it’s happy. And being happy right now is all that counts. Worrying about the past or the future just sucks the joy out of the present.
2. Dogs are forgiving.
They don’t hold grudges or get their panties all in a bunch over perceived slights or hurts. My dog doesn’t even get upset over real injuries. She’s been kicked, squeezed, and stepped on many times, bu she seems to understand that it was an accident. A hug and a heartfelt apology from the perpetrator, and she’s over it. Dogs experience discomfort at the hands of veterinarians, but mine have always given the vet a sweet slurp on the hand when it’s over. Resentment can cloud up the bluest of skies, and dogs don’t let that happen.
My dog Jake was ten when I got him from the animal shelter. The staff told me he had been abandoned when his people got a divorce, and a relative had finally brought him in for surrender. He was filthy, skin and bones, and had been so inflicted with skin parasites that his coat had bare patches the size of my hand. He was Lyme positive and so lame he could barely walk. A large scar on the back of his neck and ground-down from teeth suggested he had spent much of his youth tied to a doghouse.
Yet when I helped him into the back seat of my pickup, the eager expression on his face told me he had wiped the slate clean and was ready to begin a whole new chapter of his life. I was astounded at his sweet trusting nature, so happy and hopeful for a bright future. So ready to forgive, even after so much abuse at the hands of humans.
3. Dogs are all in, all the time.
No tentative “Well maybe I’ll try it, just this once.” No sticking their big toe in to test the waters—nope, they jump right in. They embrace life and everything in it, sucking the marrow of its goodness. Whether dogs are leaping off the end of the dock into the lake, barking to warn the family of approaching strangers, or napping in the sun on the back deck—whatever they are doing, they give it their all.
4. Dogs never run out of favorite things.
Throw a ball for a dog, and the dog’s body language is likely to shout “Chasing balls! My favorite thing!” But if you stop for a moment and rub the dog’s ears, the story changes. Suddenly it’s “Having my ears rubbed! My favorite thing!”
Dogs are definitely enthusiastic. Car rides? My favorite thing! Snuggling on the couch with my human? My favorite thing! A new toy? Supper? Company coming? Fresh snowfall? Sunshine? Teasing the cat? My favorite things!
5. Dogs are not picky eaters.
Dogs at my house get high quality food from a pet store, often served up with a bit of broth rendered from local organic meats. In addition to regular meals, foods like egg yolks left over when the recipe calls for just egg whites or a bit cheese that got dropped on the floor make nice between-meal morsels.
But none of that stops, or even slows down, the canine urge to seek out self-serve smorgasbords around my place.
My dog Honey likes to participate when I pick blueberries or tomatoes, but you may not be surprised to learn that I do not appreciate her help with those tasks. Stealing crops from the plants is not her most unpleasant eating habit, however. She enjoys tasty tidbits left behind by chickens and other livestock, or even the cat. When she is sick and I call the vet, the first question they always ask me is whether or not we have made any changes to her diet lately.
“She’s a farm dog,” I always reply. “She changes her own diet without my approval.”
Of course I am by no means suggesting that anyone of any species would be happier if they picked up Honey’s eating habits. Rather, I am saying that having an appreciation for a wide assortment of foods can enhance one’s life.
6. Dogs never question whether or not you came just to see them.
Of course you did! Honey often accompanies me to my local small-town bank, hardware store, and feed store. When other customers come in, it never occurs to my dog that they might have come to do banking or shopping. She naturally assumes that they are there to see her. Once in a while she encounters a person who isn’t interested in petting her, and she seems befuddled by that. Her face looks as if she is wondering why on earth they would have bothered come at all.
It’s the same at home. Visitors are exciting, and it never dawns on dogs that the visitors are not their visitors. After the greeting and belly rubs, dogs seem to allow their humans to cut in with a hug for the new arrivals as if it’s an afterthought.
7. Dogs get rewarded for bodily functions.
They do what comes naturally and get a treat for it. Who wouldn’t be happy with a life like that?
8. Dogs know how to get comfortable.
A dog can always find the shade under a tree or the softest section of the rug. Dogs can take up the best part of the bed or slink undetected to the forbidden piece of furniture, sprawl across a lap, or paw at a pillow to get it into just the right position.
Not only are dogs good at seeking out comfort, they are willing to pay a price to get it. We humans once watched in incredulity as our dog Honey and our cat Carlos dramatized this point. At our house in winter, the carpet in front of the wood stove is prime real estate. Despite the fact that the whole room is warm and comfortable, all the pets vie for that one two-foot-wide piece of floor. Honey crowded her way into the space that day when the cat had already staked a claim for himself. Annoyed as she inched closer, the cat finally reached over the bit her ear. Honey winced, but held her ground for a few seconds, and then resumed creeping in. Carlos bit her ear again, and the whole scene repeated. Finally, Carlos got up and stomped off in disgust, and I’m sure I saw Honey smile a little as she claimed the special spot.
Again, a disclaimer. I wouldn’t want to suggest that I am advocating subjecting oneself to pain in order to attain something coveted. Rather, I am saying that seeking out the ultimate and being willing to sacrifice for it is worth a lot.
Remember Jake? The ten-year-old dog from the shelter? We had four great years with him, during which time he was sweet, loving, and loyal. Antibiotics restored his mobility, his coat grew into a handsome luxurious mane, and he was never tied to anything ever again. He passed peacefully on the back lawn on a warm summer day, and I hope he never regretted giving humans another chance.
We can’t all be dogs. We don’t even all want to be. But if you have a dog in your life, you know what a wondrous thing it is to be part of their joy. And you know that every now and then, you have to reach out and grab some of that happiness for yourself.
Want to see just how happy dogs are? Watch them here from MashupZone:
Have a dog? Share your memorable stories with them below in the comments!