Thurber’s Tail: Can our puppies change our hearts and our world?

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Editor’s note: This column is based on an earlier, shorter version that was distributed by Cagle in February 2021.

Coffee. I needed coffee. And sleep. And food.

That’s the experience I had for weeks after I picked up my 8-week-old Lab puppy, Thurber, in February, 2021.

Before I got him, I was cocksure I’d mastered the proper training techniques to bend my little guy’s will to mine.

“No dog of mine is going Number One in my house,” I boasted to anyone who would listen.

“No dog of mine is going to lack discipline,” I protested.

“No dog of mine will sit on my furniture!” I said, arrogantly.

How did things work out?

I had my carpet cleaning company on speed dial — my cleaning service, too!

Discipline is overrated, after all, as it intrudes on fun.

And it wasn’t long before my furry bundle of joy was sitting on my beloved leather recliner, staring at me with black, doughy eyes that transformed me into a pat of butter in a frying skillet.

The truth is the training strategy still isn’t going well — though he’s teaching me as fast as he can.

My dog is a bundle of joy

His endless cuteness, hilarity and affection as a puppy melted my heart and made me laugh out loud all day long. Now almost two-years-old, his antics still make me laugh out loud daily!

He never stops reminding me that the world is a place of constant wonder — and that there’s a lot to experience if you keep your eyes — and nostrils! — as wide open as his.

When he first experienced snow, he couldn’t dance in enough of it.

He still plays with a chunk of frozen dirt with more intensity than he does a store-bought toy.

I fell so hard and fast for my little guy, he changed me quickly in ways I didn’t anticipate.

That first week he was home, I was so focused on his health and happiness I barely slept or ate or did anything for myself.

Dogs are good for civility

The first month I had him, I spent so much time caring for him, playing with him and laughing — and so little time on the internet and social media — I barely knew what was going on in the world.

But being offline had an unexpected blessing. I wasted no time engaging in fruitless debates with strangers about politics.

And because I basically stopped watching cable news, I was spared the divisive news and opinions that never stop coming out of Washington, D.C.

For the sake of America, I wish everyone would invite a puppy into his or her home. Reason magazine helps explain why.

Pets are an antidote to anger

According to Reason, politics is seeping into every aspect of our daily lives and ruining everything.

“Americans are choosing jobs, brands and friends for partisan reasons,” the libertarian magazine reports.

This is because Americans are becoming way too serious — way too lost in the narrowness of their limited, subjective, partisan points of view.

“Agree with my opinion on all cultural and political matters, or I won’t be your friend,” think many.

“I’ll report you to the HR department for offending my sensitivity,” think others.

“I will boycott your product or service unless you think like I do!” more people are thinking.

That’s because, tragically, we live an era of opinion trumping fact.

To everyone’s detriment, including our own, we try to impose our will and our political values on others and we shun those who refuse to submit.

Let’s learn from our puppies!

But we have it all backwards. An open heart and open eyes are what we need.

Laughter and affection, not stridency and anger, are what will bring us together and help us realize we are not so divided, after all.

Canine friendliness is what we need most!

Here’s something this new dog dad has been lucky to learn:

People who invite a curious, loving, playful canine into their homes will be so inspired by their pup’s wonderful view of the world, they won’t be able to stop themselves from becoming more civil and charitable with their fellow human beings.

Especially if their fellow human beings are canine lovers, too!

Copyright 2022 Tom Purcell, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Tom Purcell is creator of, which shares helpful pet-care tips and funny stories and videos featuring Tom’s beloved Labrador, Thurber. Email Tom at [email protected].