My first dog, Max, I got in the first grade. He lived until after I went to college. There was never a more gentle and faithful animal. Max was also an educator on kindness.

Captain Beefheart once said that the kindness of dogs teaches us the way that humans should be. When I first heard that, I had to give it some thought. I always knew dogs were kind, but I never thought of them as being able to teach us about kindness.

Dogs just might be the kindest creatures in existence. Here are five lessons we can learn from dogs on how to be kind.

A Dog Will Go Anywhere With You

When a dog hears the sound of the keys jangling, or sees the leash come off that hook on the wall, they leap with excitement. A dog loves any opportunity to hop in the back of the truck or take a stroll.

Showing kindness to others means showing them that you are willing to go places with them because spending time with them is worth it. You can also show kindness by following people into places they’d rather not go alone.

A Dog Shows When It’s Happy To See You

Isn’t it funny how the wag of a tail tells so much? A dog is never embarrassed about how happy it is to see you. That tail goes every which way with excitement!

People, on the other hand, tend to give a faint smile when we see someone, friend or stranger. What if we made a better practice of showing more appreciation for the presence of others?

A Dog Licks Your Wounds When You’re Hurt

Some say this is just because a wound has blood, and blood has salt. But dogs lick their wounds in order to clean them. They sometimes do the same for their masters.

I’m not suggesting you lick anybody. But the point remains that, just as a dog is willing to lick the wounds of a person, we can acknowledge when others are hurt and try our best to help them heal. Or just show that we are there, and we care. We are there to help them feel better.

A Dog Will Eat What You Offer

A dog has no sensibilities for food being prepared wrong, scraped together, or scraped into a Tupperware container as leftovers. Unless it’s found to be naturally repugnant, a dog will take it.

Sometimes people offer us things we’d rather not take. Maybe we think we’re too good for it. We say, “That’s not really my thing,” and we turn down an offer or a gift from someone who gave us their best, or all they had to give. Kindness is always thankful. Even when we do not want something, there are kind ways to accept it.

A Dog Is Loyal and Faithful

A dog treats its person like a divine being, doesn’t let them down, never asks for much, will lie down beside them in the night, barks at threats, and is always happy to play. Loyalty is a given with dogs, the most faithful of pets.

Kindness can make us go the extra mile. Our friends are sometimes the people we most take for granted. We proclaim friendship, only to use them, dump them, or forget them. How can you be kind to a random stranger when you forgot how to be kind to your friend? Kindness is always there, always looking out for the other. Loyalty is a kindness that remains through thick and thin.

I’m not much of a cat person. I have very few kind things to say about cats. Dogs, on the other hand, have taught me a lot about kindness. Here is a creature made to teach us about loyalty, happiness, thankfulness, helping, and friendship.

Here’s to the dog, truly man’s best friend, for its exemplifying kindness in spirit, without asking for anything in return.