For many years I found keeping a dog as a pet annoying to say the least. In my family we never had a pet and when they asked me if I liked dogs I always answered yes but only to see them from afar, or up close but for a very short time.
Dog in the street
The high point of my dislike was when I entered my girlfriend’s house for the first time. They had a large German Shepherd dog (her name was Laika). She received me as if I were the devil: the barking she gave was so loud that we almost had to shout to hear each other. Finally, after a long time, she calmed down, while I thought “why do people have dogs?; people should live with people and dogs should live with dogs.” For me, a dog living among people was like a human living as a pet to extraterrestrial beings thousands of years ahead of us. It seemed unnatural to me.
German shepherd dog
The funny thing is that my girlfriend loved dogs and not just the one she had at home, but any dog. And to round off the situation, when I left her house at night (especially if it was already late) I had to face me with countless stray dogs that were in her neighborhood and tried to bite me; I think they knew I didn’t like them.
Of course I knew the saying “a dog is man’s best friend”, but to me it was just little more than words. And it was precisely at my girlfriend’s house where I found the book “How to Win Friends” by Dale Carnegie (sometimes I think they left it for me on purpose). I borrowed it and quickly read it cover to cover. I think it is one of the best books I have read, if not the best.
How to Win Friends by Dale Carnegie
Regarding the subject we are dealing with, Carnegie says:
Why do you have to read this book to know how to make friends? Why not study the technique of the greatest friend conqueror the world has ever known? Who is it? Perhaps you will meet him this morning on the street. When you are within five meters of him you will see him wag his tail. If you stop to pet him, he’ll jump up and down to show you how much he loves you. And you know that behind that show of affection there are no ulterior motives: he doesn’t want to sell you land, or an insurance policy, nor does he want to marry you.
Have you ever stopped to think that the dog is the only animal that does not have to work to earn a living? The chicken has to lay eggs, the cow has to give milk and the canary has to sing. But the dog makes a living just by showing his affection for the owner.
When I was five years old, my father bought a little yellow puppy for fifty cents. It was the joy and light of my childhood. Every afternoon at four-thirty he would sit in front of my house, staring down the road with his beautiful eyes, and as soon as he heard my voice, or saw me waving my can of food through the trees, he would be off like a bullet, he ran breathlessly up the hill to greet me with leaps of joy and barks of sheer ecstasy.
Tippy was my constant companion for five years. Finally, one tragic night -I will never forget it- he died three meters from my head, he died struck by lightning. Tippy’s death was the tragedy of my childhood.
You’ve never read a psychology book, Tippy. You didn’t need it. You knew, by some divine instinct, that you can win more friends in two months by really being interested in others, than you can win in two years by trying to interest others in yourself.
Happy puppy jumping with his little owner
But even these words did not encourage me to change my way of thinking a little. Laika’s barking was still loud in my ears.
From experience I can tell you that, in many situations in life, to change your opinion, way of thinking or attitude (which is something very difficult) you have to have a very close example or you have to live the experience. It is useless for one to read it, for them to tell you about it or for you to see it in a YouTube video. In my case, things began to change, at first very, very slowly, when Yago entered my house.
Yago in a close up photo
It was a play by my children. I only realized on the third day. Yago came when he was just a few weeks old and didn’t bark. At first I rejected him and I didn’t want to have anything to do with him. But over the years, over several years, I realized that what Dale Carnegie had written was not just words. He was exactly describing Yago’s joy every time my wife or children come home from the street. Twelve years have passed and the scene repeats itself every day, Yago never tires. It is his greatest joy.
Of course, now I have a different opinion about dogs and it saddens me that in our Latin American countries and in many other countries in the world, stray dogs are so mistreated. And not just the strays. I myself have known very cruel, careless or indifferent owners.
Yago very sad because his owner went out on the street
To finish I will mention that Yago is a model dog: he goes to mass, he has never barked there and the priests of the church consider him as a parishioner more; they claim that he behaves better than many small children. He goes to restaurants, in a briefcase, with ventilation; no waiter has ever learned of his presence. He has attended my children’s graduation. And when he goes down the street, many people stop to take photos of him.
REFERENCES: “How to Win Friends” by Dale Carnegie.
NOTE: In the presentation photo you can see Yago sleeping on the sofa