This weekend, my family and I embarked on an annual journey: the search for the perfect Christmas tree. The scents of balsam fir, peppermint, and hot chocolate all combined to produce a delectable wintry perfume that wallowed in the brisk wind. There was an uplifting feeling of joy and well-wishes that transferred from stranger to stranger as people passed one another in pursuit of a tree. The positivity was palpable. And, to make matters all the more jubilant, the farm was bursting with dogs.

Each dog had an easily detectable personality. Some sported posh sweaters and freshly cut hair. It was elementary detective work to deduce that those dogs were fully invested in their family’s decision of which tree to choose. Other dogs seemed indescribably grateful to be there. They exuded joy with every pant, and were clearly strong believers in seizing the moment. They did not let a single living organism — be it person, tree, or fellow dog — pass them without a friendly wag of the tail and tap of the nose. Perhaps the most amusing category of furry friends were the dogs that were simply too overwhelmed. They seemed like they were the lead in a romantic comedy about a small-town girl who had just arrived in the Big Apple. Regardless of whether or not the dog was the next Reese Witherspoon, each one burst with spirit, joy, excitement, and love.

Generally speaking, canines might be the most respected species on the planet. People are willing to protect them at all costs. People see dogs for their loyalty, their respect, and their unconditional love. If a person tells you that they don’t like dogs and fails to follow up with a concession statement consisting of a very valid reason, what do you feel? According to my unofficial survey conducted with a rather limited sample size, a person who dislikes dogs or is even indifferent towards them falls a few pegs on the trustworthy spectrum. We stand up for dogs even if they are not our own, whether they are a toy dog, big dog, fluffy dog, hairless dog, barker, howler, or yipper.

This got me thinking. And before I divulge my thoughts, allow me to briefly disclaim them. I am not insinuating that this is the answer to world peace and salvation. But I do think that if we applied the respect and care with which we treat dogs to our treatment of fellow humans, we might feel the infectious joy of the holiday season much more frequently during the non-festive months. Like we tell our dogs how good a girl or boy they are, we should strive to tell our loved ones how special and wonderful they are. Let dogs’ loyalty and unabashed love inspire your daily actions. Happy holidays!

Olivia Vitarelli is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with three classmates.