Last week my wife gave me the latest addition to the Chet and Bernie series. This is a series of hard-boiled detective novels narrated by a private detective’s dog (Chet) who helps his master (Bernie) solve various crimes. Chet’s take on human failures and his unconditional love for Bernie are hilarious, even when the series takes some dark turns. Reading these books always makes me want to take my dog everywhere, even though she isn’t a tough ex-police dog like Chet but rather a nervous mutt who gets frightened by plastic bags that blow in the wind.
Reading these books makes me think of a bumper sticker I saw: “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” While I don’t think dogs are quite that universally loving (I don’t want to be the person Michael Vick’s dogs thought he was) that’s not the point. We love dogs because they are loyal and they inspire loyalty. There is virtue in caring for other living things because it can make us better people. Pets, plants…maybe not pet rocks…but the act of caring is just as good for the carer as it is for the cared-for.