As I generally prefer dogs to people, it’s fitting that I share a few thoughts about Arlo on his birthday.

Now it’s not that I prefer all dogs to all people – some of my best friends are people – but Arlo tends to put most of us to shame in the areas that count.

This guy has never lied to me.  He takes our social contracts seriously and generally holds up his end of the bargain.  IMG_0735Years ago, for example, we came to an agreement whereby if he was called in from the backyard, and he did so, he would get a treat and a “good boy” when he came inside.  To demonstrate his commitment to this pact, he will frequently ask to go outside, turn right around to come back in without me even having to call for him.  Cynics might think this a duplicitous ploy to get a treat, but I know better.  It’s called integrity.  Him doing his part without being asked.

He’s always happy to see me. Me, you, everybody. Always. Very, very happy.

He doesn’t take anything too seriously.  Notable exceptions being squirrels and rabbits.  But even then it’s his selflessness that stands out.  IMG_0338You might live five doors down, but he understands that squirrels and rabbits are a neighborhood problem, one that doesn’t stop at some artificial line separating his yard from yours.   He will go above and beyond (and under and through) to combat this scourge.  Should he trash your flower bed on the heels of a rabbit, he does so with full knowledge that sometimes there is collateral damage in pursuit of the greater good.

He’s not hung up on body image.  Shower him with compliments over how good looking he is and he’ll trot off to find some fresh bear scat or a dead carcass to roll in.  He likes to keep it real.

Arlo is a character with character.  While his public antics elicit smiles and chuckles, there is a side to him few get to see.  He and I spend many days and evenings together away from our family, and he has a keen sense for the state of my mental health, particularly in the evening.  If I am in a funk, or maybe drifting from solitude into isolation, he picks up on it.  But more importantly he acts on it.  He will often rise from his resting place and relocate to my place of unrest.  His paw or chin will go to my lap or his body will cover my feet.  He offers true compassion and asks for precious little in return.

So happy birthday my good friend.  Long may you run.