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Pom in Oz with Derek Goforth: The purpose and love provided by dogs cannot be underestimated

Derek GoforthMidwest Times
The love of a hound is perhaps the closest we’ll ever get to unconditional love.
Camera IconThe love of a hound is perhaps the closest we’ll ever get to unconditional love. Credit: melissaperryphotography/Getty Images/iStockphoto

It’s not often that I find myself alone in my house for an extended period without my family.

However, recently I had to hold down the fort while they were away.

Despite feeling alone, I wasn’t truly by myself. I had my two dogs. One, a lovely older terrier, and the other, a big, boofy mastiff cross puppy.

While the house may have been quiet, I certainly didn’t lack for company. During this time, I had moments to sit, think and contemplate, realising how essential our dogs are to us as individuals, as families and as a society.

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In a world dominated by social media and virtual friendships, companionship can seem alien, especially to younger people. That’s why the unwavering loyalty and affection from my dogs are so important.

Finding comfort in simply being with them on evenings, sipping coffee or a cool drink, my terrier nestled against me and the big boy on his favourite cushion, brought a sense of peace that many would envy.

Purpose matters to me, as it does for most of us. The doggos gave me that purpose — feeding, walking, watering and keeping them entertained became a fulfilling part-time job. Just as they offered me unconditional love and affection, they craved it back.

Our twice daily walks structured my summer holidays, providing a reason to go about my day even when I didn’t feel like it, because they needed me as much as I needed them.

Being out there — in the dog park, on the beach, or walking them around the area — lifted me up. Whether it was the exercise endorphins or just being out in the sun, I felt more alive and, more importantly, was doing something vital.

Unconditional love may be an abstract concept, as there are always conditions deep down. Yet, the love of a hound is perhaps the closest we’ll ever get to it.

One of the saddest sights I’ve witnessed is the abuse of a dog. It’s not just the act itself that saddens, angers and frustrates me; it’s the look in the dog’s eyes during and after the abuse.

Dogs harbour no malice, hatred or grudges. The saddest part is that, even after suffering abuse, all the dog wants is for someone to love them and forgive the wrongs imposed upon them.

We’re too lenient on animal abusers; there are no real consequences for their actions. It’s sickening and frustrating that nothing seems likely to change.

I love my dogs, I love my family and I know they love me. They don’t love me for my job, my wage, my clothes or my looks. They just love me for me.

Derek Goforth is an expat of 13 years and father-of-three living in Geraldton

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