By Neeto da Silva

 “We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. In return, dogs give us their all. It’s the best deal man has ever made.” — Margery Facklam (Author)

Looking for examples of why dog is man’s (and woman’s!) best friend, I turned first to Cinder, my 13 year-old Lab-Border Collie, for a little inspiration. Regrettably, she was well into her afternoon nap under the kitchen table and much too deaf to hear my calls. With my primary source out of action, I had little choice but to take drastic measures.
I meandered over to the public library and made my way to the most logical spot to start my search, the children’s section. Browsing the shelves my eye spotted the perfect book with which to start my research into the Canis lupus familiaris. Pulling a slim, hardcover book, aptly titled Dog, off the shelf, I felt I was being watched.
I turned around to see a young girl, clutching a book about cats, glaring at me. She immediately informed me that “Dogs are grodey,” and that “Cats are far superior.” Not wanting to be outdone, I reminded her that dogs, like Laika, have been to space. Unimpressed, she retorted that cows can jump over the moon whenever they want. Then, with a turn of her heel, she left in triumph. Outwitted by her youthful logic, I began to wonder what kind of offspring a dish and spoon would have. Dishoons? Spoonishes?
Shaking myself back to reality, I moved over to the tables to peruse my book. Regrettably, I realized much too late that the tables and chairs in the children’s section are, well, child-sized. By the time I plopped down into the chair my knees were past the point of no return. Nevertheless, with knees neatly tucked up under my chin, I set about the task of reading the book. Thankfully, I hadn’t gotten more than two pages in before finding one of the reasons dogs are man’s best friends.
By Neeto da Silva
Since man domesticated the dog, the two have enjoyed some 12,000 years of friendship, give or take half a decade. That’s one heck of a long time to be friends, and it shows. Both dogs and humans have an almost eerie way of being able to read each other’s non-verbal cues and dogs beat out any other animal at picking up on our cues.
They can know when a nod means, “The treat is under the third bowl,” while playing a version of the shell game with them, or when that same nod means, “Get out of the way,” while rushing out the door. Strangely, Cinder can also tell when I’m opening the fridge for drink or food. If it’s the latter she trundles into the kitchen to claim her rightful portion – all this in spite of the fact she’s stone deaf.
Which brings me to another point. Cinder, like other dogs, does more than just mooch her share of the food. In her prime she earned some of her keep as a working dog by pulling a sled laden with newspapers in the winter months. She is also the best exercise plan I’ve ever invested in. She’s a trusted personal trainer I can’t ignore. Nothing says “Get out of bed and take me for a walk!” like a cold nose on your arm.
The tasks that dogs perform around the world are as varied as dogs themselves. They even help find truffles! Regrettably, I am told, that the truffles dogs find are of the fungal variety, not the chocolate kind. However, the universal relationship that exists between humans and dogs is undeniable. It is loving, kind and like nothing else that can be witnessed on this earth.
So, despite the fact that I won’t be able to have Cinder find chocolate truffles for me, I return to her, knowing she’ll be waiting to greet me when I get home, with her leash in her mouth and ready to get me my day’s exercise.
By Kevin Mogk