I got my first gundog in college (see photo. Yes, mullets were in style back then), and I've been happily owned by them ever since. They've taught me things about myself the best shrink couldn't. They've made me weep with joy, curse in frustration, laugh in delight and simply stare in awe and amazement. When I've lost loved ones my dogs have helped mend my broken heart with a lick and nudge of their muzzle, only to break my heart all over again when they themselves die. And while digging their graves, some old and rheumy-eyed, others lost in their prime, I've sworn "Never again, the pain's not worth it." Which is a lie, of course. The pain's always worth it because that's the deal we make to experience what they have to give and teach us. We may have bad days or weeks or months, we may get distracted with the daily complications of modern life. But as long as a dog has a leg to rub against, a hand to lick and eyes to look into, they're happy. And I think we can learn a helluva lot from that.