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Karin Spicer: A happy pet makes a happy companion and home

Humans are not always good at expressing feelings of love and affection.

Those who are challenged can visit the self-help section of any bookstore and purchase a book on the subject. Or save time and money and watch a dog express his love for his human family.

The eminent naturalist Charles Darwin, a life long dog lover, had numerous dog companions throughout his life. They included a retriever, a Pomeranian, a pointer, a Scottish deerhound and several terriers.

His writings on canine behavior are still relevant today.

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Concerning a dog’s affection for humans, Darwin wrote, “But man himself cannot express love and humility by external signs so plainly as does a dog, when with drooping ears, hanging lips, flexuous body and wagging tail, he meets his beloved master.”

Teddy, our three year old lab, exemplifies Darwin’s point.

The pooch demonstrates his affection towards his human family and friends in multiple ways.

When my husband, Ed, comes home from work, he says, “Who’s my boy?” And Teddy runs to his leader.

The lab is almost dancing. His rump is wiggling and his tail wagging, his body saying, “It’s me! I’m your boy.”

Our daughter, Jordan, also gets the same welcome.

Teddy exhibits similar behavior when I come home. It just lasts a little longer.

I come through the door and there sits Teddy, looking like he could explode as he tries to stay in this stance.

I say, “Were you a good boy? You were? Okay, let’s get some cheese.” The lab prances and his tail wags as he follows me to the refrigerator.

Our friend, Melissa, self-proclaimed godmother to Teddy, receives a different greeting but just as affectionate.

When Melissa drops by, all the good manners he has learned goes out the window. Teddy jumps with all the joyous enthusiasm he can muster. Then the furball licks her face.

From his head to his paws, Teddy greets his friend. “Where have you been? Want to rub my tummy? How about a game of fetch-shake-tug-chew? Bring me a treat? A toy?”

The jumping and licking intensifies when she answers “yes” to any or all of his questions. Usually it’s all.

At the sound of Ed, Jordan or my happy, animated, sounding voice Teddy comes running.

In his joyous excitement, Teddy’s tail is wagging so fast it looks like a helicopter’s blades rotating at lift-off. If the pooch could keep his tail rotating at that speed for an extended time, he would lift off, too.

Sometimes when Teddy’s lying down I sing to him softly. And no, I’m not a great singer. I’m not even a good singer. But I can tell Teddy loves my songs from my childhood camp days.

As I sing a round or two of “We’re Camping at Wanake. We’re campers brave and sure,”Teddy’s eyes get soft and round as he looks at me. His mouth relaxes and so does his body.

I don’t get that loving reaction from Ed and Jordan. Just eyes rolling and “sheesh.”

Lastly, Teddy is a leaner. He leans into Ed when the two watch college basketball on tv.

Since Jordan doesn’t live with us, Teddy leans on her from almost the minute she enters the house.

Jordan loves it.

Charles Darwin was right. We humans could learn a lot about expressing feelings of love and affection from the family dog.

››RELATED: Dog wears winter coat

Karin Spicer, a magazine writer, has been entertaining families for more than 20 years. She lives in Bellbrook with her family and two furry animals all who provide inspiration for her work. She can be reached at

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