3 Reasons a Dog Means the World

by | Jan 3, 2024

My holiday break wasn’t as it normally is — a rest — because our dog Manny (a four-year-old English bulldog) got seriously ill and had to be hospitalized several times. He swallowed a ham bone a few days before Christmas, and it messed him up, big time. He needed medical assistance to not only re-hydrate but to unclog. That’s the nicest way I can say it without getting totally gross.

Manny wasn’t okay, and at times we felt as if his life literally hung in the balance. I wasn’t okay either.  I wanted to shout 9-1-1 to the entire world, begging everyone to pray for him. I put the request out to my facebook friends and I shared more in depth with some close friends. I knew some would not understand why this was so overwhelming or meant so much. If a person doesn’t have (or have had) pets that they consider family, they do not understand. To them, it’s “just a dog.” To me, and other “dog moms” out there, it’s anything but.

I know that Manny is not going to live forever, but as he’s only four years old, I can’t imagine life without him right now. I call Manny and our other dog, Mercy, my little “Sanemakers.” They keep me emotionally stable on many a day. I’m an introvert who can happily work from home for days at a time, with my two little buddies beside me. On a lot of days I run on Jesus, my little buddies, and coffee.

I’m happy to report that on his third hospitalization late Monday night, Manny was finally totally unclogged and able to function normally. All obstructions were finally gone.

I’ve often considered why pets feel like they are everything at times. In fact, a favorite song I sing to Manny is, “You are Everything” by the Stylistics. I sing it this way:

“You are everything and everything is you…Manny you are everything, and everything is you…”

More than one time, singing this little ditty to Manny has prompted my husband to get a forlorn look and say, “What about me?!”


Seriously, they do feel like my whole world at times. They bring me things no one else does. Among them:

Dogs have compassion on steroids

When I come home feeling overwhelmed with a problem, rarely am I looking for someone to solve it for me. I want someone to simply wrap their arms around me and love me, and ooze compassion. I’m not the only one who desires this. Psychologist, Dr. Jason N. Linder explains, “When we tell our troubles and stressors to other humans, they usually start problem-solving when what we need most when is connection, understanding, and empathy. Most pets, especially most dogs, are not only naturally perfect at this but also genetically wired to provide this for us.

Dogs are purely motivated

I deal with wrongly-motivated people ALL. THE. TIME.

I really do, and I hate it! Part of it just comes with the territory of my job which unfortunately lends itself to people cozying up to me for all the wrong reasons.

Manny and Mercy don’t have an ill-motivated bone in their bodies and their love is as pure for me as the day is long. They are loyal to a fault and truth be told as much as I feel like they are everything to me, I know that I am everything to them! They live for the moment I come home everyday. If I cry, they are NOT okay. If I am hurt, they are NOT okay. If I am not happy, they are NOT okay. Truly they are the most unselfish beings I know. Miguel de Cervantes says:

“I know well enough that there have been dogs so loving that they have thrown themselves into the same grave with the dead bodies of their masters; others have stayed upon their masters’ graves without stirring a moment from them, and have voluntarily starved themselves to death, refusing to touch the food that was brought them.”

They are a type of therapy all their own

Therapy animals have been linked to pain relief, and improvement of symptoms of depression and anxiety. Pet therapy is utilized with everyone from chemo patients to veterans with PTSD, and more.

Manny and Mercy (and previous dogs we had) have all been an important part of my ongoing mental health. On many a day their silent support gets me through. It’s amazing how beings that never utter one word can bring so much comfort. As Doris Day once said…

I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source.”

I am so thankful for the two little beings that God has given me in my house, and that they are both going into the new year with me. We will weather whatever comes our way…together.


  1. Beth Willis Miller

    Such a warm, open, honest, and heartfelt description of what our dogs mean to us. Thank you 🙏

    • Dr. Deanna Shrodes

      You are welcome! <3

  2. Nancy Manassero

    You nailed it. I got this email in my inbox on the very day that we had to euthanize my mom’s 18-year-old Chow/Husky mix whom we inherited six months ago when my mom passed. It was excruciating to watch this sweet, loyal companion take her last breath.

    We have a 2-yr-old terrier mix who is the perfect example of everything you listed. She is my joy, my comfort, my friend, my therapy. Dogs reflect God like no other creature. Thank you for this article, Deanna. We dog-moms gotta stick together.

    • Dr. Deanna Shrodes

      I am so sorry you lost you and your Mom’s sweet baby. Ugh! That hurts! I am praying for you and your family.


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