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My Dog, Myself


February 23, 2014 by Julia

Similar to my questions about our dogs’ family name, I’ve been looking for a term to use for that a dog that captures your heart in a special way. Most people call this a Heart Dog, but I am not in love with that term. It isn’t that it is inaccurate – they are a dog of your heart – but the aesthetics are missing something. I’ve tried out Soul Dog, but that sounds too much like surf dude slang for something. I looked at synonyms for heart and soul. Other than finding out that “nub” is a synonym for vital essence, I’m not any closer to a solution (but discovering that is kind of awesome).

The only reason I’m thinking about this is because I have one and we recently marked the seven year anniversary of bringing him home.

There is something about Dash that is different than the others. It doesn’t have to do with our work together, which is funny since that was/is such a huge part of my relationship with my bitches. He’s certainly eager to learn and work, but his health and behavior has limited our sessions to the house, yard and occasional carefully selected outings.

I’ve developed a theory about what makes this special bond between dog and human – the dogs that capture us this way are ones that reflect something we feel or believe about ourselves.

Dash the Boxer sitting on the stairs

Tell me more.

It is easy for me to make physical comparisons. Dash is tall but narrow and seemed to take forever to grow out of gawky adolescence. It was very hard to put weight on him during his adolescence and I’ve only recently had to watch his portions.

Similarly, we could compare medical quirks. While I’ve escaped anything as major as his meningitis, we both seem prone to nagging little side effects and irritating (but not life threatening) maladies that don’t make sense to our doctors. Due to injuries in our youth, we’re both suckers for a neck rub.

What really tugs at me is who he is and how he is viewed by the outer world. He’s not well understood by most, but the few who “get” him love him deeply. They find him funny, charming, and engaging. They forgive his moments of over exuberance and they know how to help settle his busy mind.

I’ve stopped apologizing for him to the rest of the world. He’s not what they expect or understand, but that isn’t our problem. My energy is better spent loving him, understanding him, and learning from him. I cherish what he has taught me and what he will teach me – about life and about myself.

Plus, he’s pretty friggin’ cute.

Dash the Boxer looking like a baby kangaroo

Doing his best impression of a joey.


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