I was already married to my wife when I became a veterinarian. We quickly discovered that a career as a vet can put some stress on a marriage. I can’t tell you how many dinners I have missed because a patient needed me, how many social occasions I’ve attended at which I’ve arrived covered in cat hair, or how many times I have lobbied to bring home an animal that “just needs a place to stay for a while.”

However, I also have to say that I think I became a much better husband and partner after becoming a veterinarian. While I’d like to claim that any improvement has come from experience, maturity or wisdom, I think I have to credit the countless individuals I’ve met who have this whole lifelong-love thing down pat. They’re my canine patients, and I try to take pointers from them whenever I can.

Here are 10 lessons dogs have taught me about making marriage-or any kind of committed relationship-work.

1. Forgive mistakes. No matter what we humans do-scoot our dogs from comfortable seats in front of the television or go on walks or jogs without them when the weather is too hot or cold-dogs never hold a grudge. They forgive us our failings and don’t dwell on our wrongs.

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