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I was never much of a “dog person”. Or a pet person, for that matter. Perhaps a big reason for that was that growing up in India, there really was not much room, or time, to have a pet – no less a dog – in the home. So, when my fast-growing-old daughter started asking me – “Dad, can I please have a puppy” – my initial reaction was a resounding “No”. Of course, that did not faze her.

She kept asking. My answer changed from “No” to “when you get older and are able to take care of a puppy”. She kept asking. She kept researching the “perfect puppy” using “Dr Google” with Mom and a menagerie of iPad apps. My answer changed to “OK. You and Mom decide the breed and let me know”. Then, just like that, it happened.

Just before the fourth of July this year, they identified the breed, we started looking for local breeders – and within a week, we had a ten-week old “Havanese” in our home. For those of you who are pet owners, you know what happens next. You try to train the new pet, but, most of the time, the new pet trains you. You try to teach eating about eating, sleeping, walking and more – and they teach you a lot more in return. And what is one of the biggest lesson that this now seven month old has taught me?

The puppy waits at the door...

That lesson is about loyalty. Yes, I had heard many many times that “a dog is a man’s best friend”. But it is one thing to hear it and quite another to experience it. It does not matter how long any of us are gone from the home – our return is greeted with such enthusiasm and joy that I simply shake my head. He weighs less than ten pounds, but the ferocity with which he “protects” my daughter is a sight to behold. I could go on and on, but you are probably wondering – what does this story have to do with spirituality and #SpiritChat?

Good question. As I have been watching the loyalty of our puppy develop, I happened to also watch the movie called “Hatchiko” this week. And my whole concept of “loyalty” reached a totally different level. It made me realize that while we may think and intellectualize about values like love, devotion, gratitude and loyalty, our pets simply practice them.

The whole set of experiences has made me ask – what am I loyal to? And where does my loyalty to my values come from? Is my loyalty a result of service that others have provided to me? What life situations make loyalty a burden to me? Is my spiritual evolution hampered by my loyalty to my upbringing?

I am not sure about the answers. But one thing I am sure about – this puppy licking my fingers as I type this out, simply does not care. He is simply loyal.

Kumud

Want to share your thoughts on loyalty? Join us Sunday, Dec 1st at 9am ET for our weekly twitter chat in #SpiritChat – or leave us a comment below. Thank you!