From time to time, people tell me, “lighten up, it’s just a dog”, or, “that’s a lot of money for just a dog”. They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for “just a dog”. Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog”. Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a dog”, but I did not once feel slighted. Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a dog” and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog” gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day. If you, too, think it’s “just a dog”, then you will probably understand phrases like “just a friend”, “just a sunrise”, or “just a promise”. “Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. “Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person. Because of “just a dog” I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me and folks like me, it’s not “just a dog” but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment. “Just a dog” brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day. I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a dog” but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a human.” So the next time you hear the phrase “just a dog”, just smile, because they “just don’t understand”.