"Family" is a term most often defined as a group of people directly related by ancestral bloodlines and lineages. Modern variances have expanded the famillal arms that reach out and encircle through avenues such as sports affiliations, criminal activity, common interests, occupational memberships and religious sects, to name a few.
It can be debated that in the final analysis, one's true family is that person or group of people who are loyal and present during the best of times as well as in the bleakest hour while keeping silent their selfishness, prejudices and harsh opinions. Sadly, few names will come to mind.
Notwithstanding, it has to be noted that these creatures do in fact exist and walk among us. They may be known as Spot, Rover or King but will always be recognized as "Man's Best Friend" and an important member of the family.
The furry chocolate ball with sweet smelling kisses of eagerness or the lop-eared orphan of abandonment who has loved his way into the human heart will never waste time questioning motives, judging appearances or making comparisons. Rather, he is quick to forgive after having been left in the rain, forgotten at supper time or ignored during a crisis and will quickly show his allegiance with the simple brush of a warm muzzle against the palm of a still hand.
Whether a show champion who works tirelessly to train for his master, a carefully purchased prize identified through the pet store window or a fortunate captive rescued from death row at the shelter; God's barky conundrums remain consistent.
It is they who incite a smile by quizzically tilting their head, attempting to understand words of endearment. It is they who ease the lonely suffering of a grieving widow and will protect their charges, often at the cost of their own lives. It is they who lead sightless owners confidently across busy thoroughfares and will walk hundreds of miles to reunite with their people. It is they who find their way to the marble identifying the love of their life and cover the soil with their warmth. And it is they who demonstrate the ease, simplicity and purity of unconditional love and family acceptance.
It is a wise person who fashions his life after the image his dog creates.