Today’s post is sponsored by Forge Books. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Debutante possible!
We don’t deserve dogs. They’re so good and so pure, and I think everyone can benefit from the lessons they teach us. If you’re wondering where all these feelings are coming from, I just laughed/cried my way through W. Bruce Cameron’s A Dog’s Promise, which continues the story of Bailey, the sweetest boy whose heartwarming journey started in A Dog’s Purpose and continued in A Dog’s Journey, and realized how much of an impact my two precious fur babies, Nala and Nellie, have had on me– and my relationships, as well. If you’re new to my blog, I’m newly engaged, and I tear up every time I think about how far we’ve come as a family since we all found each other.
As I made my way through the book, I couldn’t help but notice similarities between Nala and Nellie and the two sweet angel dogs, Bailey and Lacey, in A Dog’s Promise. I don’t want to give anything away, but their story of unending devotion reminded me that all pets are sent to us for a reason. In some way, shape, or form, their love changes us for the better, and, in Bailey’s case, it can even heal wounds. As someone who’s needed a good deal of healing in the past, A Dog’s Promise made me think about all the lessons my dogs have taught me about love and companionship, and I’m sharing five of my favorites in today’s post!
1. Forgiveness is freedom.
Dogs don’t hold grudges, nor do they mentally stash grievances for future arguments, which (full disclosure) I’m totally guilty of doing. You can break your promise to take them to the dog park, “retire” their favorite stuffed friend, or even bring home a new pet without their permission. It doesn’t matter. They forgive us each and every time– because they love and see the good in us. Dogs lives are just too short (it’s their only flaw really), so instead of harboring resentment or bitterness, they choose to make the best of every single moment they have. Is that weakness? Of course not. It’s freedom, and it’s taught me to let go of the past and keep moving forward.
2. Being vulnerable opens our hearts to all the feels.
It absolutely makes my blood boil, but many dogs have been ignored, neglected, and even abused in the past. I remember following Bailey’s journey in W. Bruce Cameron’s first novel, A Dog’s Purpose, and continually being so let down by his people. No matter how humans showed (or didn’t show) their love to him, Bailey was always willing to open his heart, and eventually, he got to be with the people he loved most. As someone who’s always had a hard time letting people in, dogs have taught me that being vulnerable doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, it allows us to be fully seen, fully heard, and fully capable of giving and receiving love– just like Bailey.
3. Loyalty shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Not to get too nerdy, but according to the dictionary, loyalty means having a faithful allegiance to another person or institution. The best example I can think of is Bailey’s unending devotion to fulfill his promise (and ultimately find his purpose) over the course of several lives in the A Dog’s Promise book. It makes sense, though, because loyalty is a natural behavior for dogs. To them, we’re just one of the pack, and they’ll never leave us behind, decide we’re not cool, or trade us in for a newer model.
In my experience, I’ve found that true loyalty among humans is a rare gem, and when we find it, we often take it for granted. Think about it. It’s normally not until we really need help or support that we recognize, let alone appreciate, it. So, this begs the question– if dogs intuitively stand behind one another in weakness and in strength, in sickness and in health, shouldn’t we do the same? Answer: Yes. Yes, we should.
4. Relationships are worth cherishing– and prioritizing.
We’re all crazy busy, and everyday distractions (cough*social media*cough) sometimes prevent us from spending quality time with our people. Dogs, however, need to interact with their pack and constantly remind us how important our companionship is to them. Case in point– every time I come home, regardless of the day I’m having, Nala and Nellie jump up from their afternoon snoozles to greet me at the door. When I’m working too hard or too late, they take a break from gnawing on their bones to bring me dirty socks and squeaky toys. Day after day, there’s never a doubt in my mind that they cherish our bond.
Basically, Nala and Nellie have helped me realize that cherishing and, more importantly, prioritizing each other is key for maintaining any healthy relationship.
5. Unconditional love is the greatest gift of all.
I saved the best lesson for last, y’all! Humans are constantly trying to impress one another, but dogs couldn’t care less about how much money we make, how good (or bad) our outfit looks, or whether or not we’re keeping up with the Joneses. No matter how rough life gets, they love us with a warmth and kindness that’s unwavering and never-changing, and it serves as a constant reminder to show that same unconditional warmth and kindness to the people we love, as well. Whether it’s your partner, mom, sister, or whoever, unconditional love truly is the greatest gift we can give, and we should give it abundantly.
All sappiness and sentiment aside, if you’re a dog lover, there’s absolutely no way to not love the new A Dog’s Promise book. Not only is it a beautiful story throughout, the ending will bring you so much joy– and will make you want to hug your doggo as tight as you can. I’m serious, y’all. It’ll make you laugh, cry, and feel all the feels, including the hope that one day, long after our precious fur babies are gone, we’ll be reunited again.
Also, FYI– A Dog’s Promise is a sequel to A Dog’s Journey, which is a sequel to A Dog’s Purpose. I personally recommend reading them in order (or watching the movies!) beforehand– just because I genuinely love the story arc and think they’re marvelously written. That being said, W. Bruce Cameron’s A Dog’s Promise book reads well as a stand-alone story, too, so it’s totally up to you. Happy reading!
Photography by Catherine Rhodes.