Over Here: The Truth About Dogs


The always loyal companion

What’s the big deal with all the dogs?

Prior to coming to Prague I was told in casual conversation that Czechs really love their dogs. Well of course, EVERYBODY loves their dogs. If not, why would you have them? The loyal companion.

It took me virtually no time to realize the literal truth in this initial statement. Wow, Czechs really do love their dogs. For every 6 people I saw walking down the street, at least half of them had a dog with them, and who knows if the other half didn’t have a cute rascal waiting for them at home.

An article in Radio Praha stated that nearly 40% of people in the Czech Republic have a dog, more than France, Britain or Germany! Wonder how my fellow Americans match up with that?

The scene could be set anywhere: a tram, the grocery store, a restaurant and even the library — canines everywhere. What was more striking was the careless approach with which Czechs guided their dogs around. In matters of hygiene, the sight of a dog at the dinner table would send most Americans off their feet. Not if you’re a Czech. I’ve even seen a Czech go so far as to personally feed their dogs off their own plate. True Story.

At an art exhibit, I watched a tiny blonde child as she found herself enchanted by a scared looking dog — as it appeared to me. The child was probably no more than a year or so, barely able to crawl around on the floor. At such a young age, taught to love and shown to care for others, even those that are not genetically like us.

This is what I’ve been missing. Raw an uncultured love, of the kind that does not need reasoning. The love of a patient and loyal creature — such as a dog.

We can say Czechs are cold as much as we want, but the generalization is nothing more than that. It’s all situational, I’d like to say. As I witnessed, the love of a canine cuts through that cold exterior — demonstrating the warmth of a human’s heart. It touches us in places we never knew existed. Likewise, it shows us how easy it is to love and find satisfaction.

Maybe that’s why Czechs love their dogs so much? A rough history and all, well of course that wears someone out. Dogs are not complicated, thank goodness. All they need is food, shelter, sleep and a little attention.

At a pub, I saw a perfectly still dog loyal to his owner as the older man played a lively game of cards. He did not stir and he dare not leave his master’s side. Looking up at me, he caught my gaze. We locked for a few seconds or so. Piercing through all the troubles I’d been experiencing lately, he soothed me. I can’t quite explain the encounter, but it was reassuring and I chose to keep pressing on., troubles or not.

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