Be the Person Your Dog Thinks You Are

My doggy girl, Wilma, was the love of my life. She did not only believe in me, but she was also the one being on the planet within my lifetime who believed in me the most. She gave me everything she had and more. Because that’s what she wanted, just give me everything to make me feel good.

I am tearing up as I write these words. I haven’t been able to talk about it for a very long time, and it’s still difficult for me now.

She died on August 31, 2012, aged 12, full of cancer. That was the worst day of my entire life. And the deep sorrow for her never left me. It’s not as present as it used to be, but it hasn’t gone away at all. I have regular moments when this sadness overruns me like a steamroller.

I miss her terribly, every damn day.

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  • Wilma

In your dog’s eyes, the sun revolves around you, you are the center of the universe, everything depends on you. There is nothing you can do wrong, for your dog you are the absolute perfection and the benchmark for everything. Even abused dogs “love” their owners … even if they mostly fear them. Subordinate wolves in packs do this too.

I wasn’t always the perfect dog dad, but she forgave me for every mistake. She has always adapted her few, simple needs to my many, complicated needs. And no, food wasn’t her first priority. The biggest thing for her was spending time with me, being outside with me, spending time in nature, playing and frolicking.

I saved Wilma and she saved me. In fact, she has saved me more times than I have saved her. I saved her once; she saved me countless times. She asked me to keep going every time I wanted to end it all. The responsibility I felt towards her kept me from doing so. She also taught me humility and gratitude, and she made me grow up. She has made me more cautious, smarter, more responsible and less vain. In short, she made me a better person. Would that have happened without her? No, not to this extent.

I wasn’t the perfect human being that she saw in me, but I always wanted to be. I’m not that good with people, to be honest, because I can’t trust people. People have disappointed me too many times from my earliest childhood. “Performing” in company is very difficult for me and costs me a lot of energy. I’ve learned to go through the world with a mask so that nobody notices how I’m really doing, but I would prefer a world with far fewer people and more animals.

I’ll never forget the day when I stood in front of the first kennel at the shelter, and this pitch-black ball with these weird glasses — she had no hair around the eyes because of zinc deficiency — looked at me. We fell in love in milliseconds. I knew: this dog or none. Now! An hour later — she fit in my hand — she was lying on my chest, that little black ball someone had simply thrown away and nobody wanted because she was black and supposed to become rather big. A potential “problem dog”.

To me she was perfect, and she proved to be an absolutely exceptional dog as she grew. Sure, every dog owner says that about their dog … but really: anyone who knew Wilma knows what I’m talking about. She was VERY special, friendly, beautiful looking, had a very own character, incredibly intelligent to a point where she was scary, at times. Very human-like. And everyone loved her because she was a happy dog that loved humans, although she has been treated like shit by humans when she was a baby.

I finally wrote this down, more than 10 years after her death, and it’s still all very difficult for me. I think it’s good, maybe it eases my heart. There are 2 new dogs in my life recently, for whom I am also a hero, and they also make me a better Ingo every day … but Wilma is everywhere. I see, smell and feel her everywhere, she is omnipresent.

And when the two new heartthrobs look at me, she looks at me through them, telling me to keep on going and become better every day.

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Cleo, a Great Dane. Patient, good-natured, playful, likes harmony and is very filigree despite her immense size, somehow.
Max and me
Max, a spanish-everything-mix, found abandoned and rescued. He’s very attached to me and quite vocal and expressive. An emotional and outgoing type.

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