What would our lives be like if we were more like dogs? By instantly knowing everyone's true colors, people would either constantly bark at each other, or it would be unconditional love for everyone.

Since sharing my small office space for the past three years with two 90-pound dogs, I've come to realize they know more about me than most people do. Our black lab and golden retriever, now both 13 years old, know my every move, and I'm convinced they're reading my mind.

No matter the weather, they insist on our daily walk. Just seconds after I think ‘maybe now is a good time’ they are up, wagging, whining and ready to go. I've tested this theory many times and they rarely miss my mental clue.

I trust their judgment in character over anyone else's, especially my own. With one sniff they know what you're all about and if you don't smell quite right there's a whole lot of barking going on until you can convince them otherwise. Sure, a dog treat can typically win them over, but that's no different than buttering me up with chocolate chip cookies. The bottom line is, if my dog doesn't like you, I might not either.

I've only had dogs as pets but apparently, even the guinea pig, who was supposed to have gone home with the grandkids nearly three years ago, tries to tell me what I'm supposed to be doing and at what time. The caged rodent will begin squealing to tell me when it's time to start fixing dinner, because she knows it's her feeding time too. Clear from another room, she can smell me cutting green vegetables and will immediately begin screaming for a taste, which, obviously, she always gets. Initially bought for the grandkids, the dang thing has grown on me and even though I've been tempted to "accidentally" let her go, she's become part of the family. Besides, how many kids can say their grandparents have a guinea pig, in a rabbit cage, in their front room?

When dogs become part of a family they provide so much more than what we could ever give to them. They teach us about being truly grateful for the little things in life and will gladly give the kind of love humans can only dream of. No matter what we may say or do, our pets love us without regret, follow without question and protect without fail.

In the past few months, we've had to say goodbye to two of our "grand dogs." It's difficult to know what to say when a family pet passes because it's a grief like no other. Our mind may say, "it's just a dog," but our hearts know better. They are family. It doesn't seem fair their lives go by seven times faster than ours. They will be missed.

At this very moment, both dogs are under my desk, dripping slobber on my feet and making it impossible to move anywhere but backwards. I wouldn't have it any other way, but, of course, they already know this.

Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at sandydownhome@hotmail.com