In dog I trust in 2016

Published 1:44 pm Saturday, January 9, 2016

Facing one of the most divisive and decisive presidential election years our nation has seen in decades, I turned to one of the wisest beings I know: my dog. Here’s what Geneva Evita “Geva” Railey, “The G,” told me:

Fight back against cruelty with all your heart. Don’t ever let the big dogs bully the small dogs. Always try to settle things with your bark alone. But never bark out what you can’t follow with a surgically placed bite as a last resort.

Remember to cut your losses before it goes too far. Choose your battles carefully. The only thing sadder than a dead dog beside the road is a three-legged one, even a well-loved one, limping through life from battle injuries. And if you do get wounded, even badly, lick your wounds, let them heal and move along.

Don’t compound your injuries by holding onto the pain. That stuff causes cancer.

Instead, help an opponent lick their wounds. Bones are best buried.

Remember that family and friends are the most important things on earth. Struggles come and go, and years later you might not even remember what you were fighting about. Especially on the family part. Remember that you all came from the same bloodline, and whether you’re the runt or the pick of the litter, you share that bloodline.

Nips can rev into bites that tear at nerves and hearts. Be careful. Don’t ever say anything you wouldn’t want your mama to hear.

Appreciate the scratch and the pat that strangers give you, but use all your senses to discern whether they really mean you well or they just want your vote. Don’t be a lapdog to those who will give you a treat then quickly forget you. Watch out for the bullies who come first with a smile.

That said, that favorite playwright of yours made a good point on depending on the kindness of strangers. The guidance of strangers can indeed help when you lose your way far from home. Keep your mind open.

Sniff out the stories of candidates you like. If only your nose told you stories like ours does. You humans are often way too gullible. Take your dog to a political rally. We’ll tell you some things about human nature.

Be loyal. Remember who always has had your best interests at heart. Remember those who help the least of us, like those who take on “the rescue dogs.”

Listen, both to your candidates and your elders. Sit back on your haunches, stare into the eyes of those talking to you and hear what they have to say. Stop your barking and listen. We dogs know that’s often always easier said than done.

Stay young and keep some fun in your life. Think about children and their future. Reach out to them. The love of play is just one of the many special things we dogs share with children.

We dogs dance through this world all too quickly, seven years to every one of yours. You humans race around, wasting your time away on petty stuff.

Slow down and realize how short and sweet it all is, even for you humans. Carve out plenty of time for play with us dogs. Heed us when we look at you, wanting you to throw that ball for us to fetch or take us for a walk. Yeah, it helps us. But we know it helps you humans as well, keeping you young by breaking your stress from all the childish issues supposed adults get wrapped in.

Make another human happy. Go up and give somebody a lick, or whatever you all do to show love. Make somebody happy for a little bit, even if you will never agree with them.

Don’t lose your innocence or your patience.

And most important of all: Don’t let your political wars ever stop you from savoring the sun, wondering at the water and marveling at the moon with me. We’re in this together, me and you. We’ll get through it. I’ve got your back.

JOHN RAILEY is a Courtland native and is the editorial page editor for the Winston-Salem Journal, where this column first appeared. Contact him at