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Super Dogs

The super ability of dogs to soothe, save, rescue and inspire.

Like me, you may have preferred a Patriots Super Bowl victory. Maybe you liked Madonna and M.I.A. at halftime... or maybe not. But surely you loved the Skecher's ad featuring Mr. Quigley, the French bulldog. Watching him moonwalk backward over the finish line in the greyhound race made the Patriots loss easier for me. The Pats lost; but Mr. Quigley won.

Market analysts who rate audience responses to the ads give canine ads the top nod. Volkswagen’s "Dog Strikes Back" spot topped the list, followed by Bud Light’s "Rescue Dog" and Doritos’s "Man’s Best Friend."

These analysts say the reason dog ads work so well is that dogs are funny. True enough. But there's more to it than that.

Earlier on Super Sunday the The New York Times Magazine ran a touching story called "Wonder Dog." The story's subtitle was, "A Golden Retriever was the only thing that could reach a raging, disconnected boy." The story illustrates beautifully what most dog owners know; dogs rescue people from places where other people can't go.

I've had dogs, often more than one, my whole life. During my career as a school administrator I always had at least one Golden Retriever in my office. Most kids love dogs; and dogs, especially Goldens, are very good at soothing hurt feelings, relaxing nervous visitors and just making people feel better in general.

Dogs love us. No conditions. No judgment. 

Our family has raised and trained dogs for therapy and guide work. Our first male Golden, Chance, was given to us by Guiding Eyes of New York. We were "puppy raisers." It nearly broke our hearts to give him back as a well socialized and trained adolescent. But knowing that Chance would offer someone independence and mobility made the separation manageable.

I'd be the first to admit that dogs are amazingly funny. Two of our four dogs, Twig and Chili, are performing dogs who ride skateboards. They draw a crowd wherever they skate. People laugh, call their friends over, bring out their phones. There's a sense of wonder.  

Dogs are amusing for sure. But they also inspire, lead and save us, and that goes way beyond funny.

Two upcoming events in Clearwater will feature dogs and give us all a chance to admire, applaud and thank dogs for loving us. 

Pet-A-Palooza

11 a.m to 5 p.m. March 11 in Coachman Park

The Clearwater Pet Fesitival

10 a.m. to 3 p.m., March 24 in downtown Clearwater

*updated 6:57 p.m. Feb. 20, 2012.

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