It’s often been said a dog is man’s best friend.
The first recorded use of this related phrase was apparently by Frederick the Great of Prussia. Over time, the domesticated dog has retained that status as a loyal, dependable and friendly mate to their human companions.
I must admit, I never really felt that strong of a connection to a canine, except maybe to my first dog, a beautiful collie with a white tip on his tail. He was put down after allegedly biting my cousin, who I still swear to this day was teasing him.
I shed a lot of tears over that dog, which is perhaps why I never got another one, going through my adult life with cats as my preferred housemates.
Until this summer, that is, when we adopted an older German Wirehaired Pointer.
I was hesitant at first to accept a dog into the family. The cats were jealous – they would hiss and swat and block the door – and the dog was as demanding as a baby. Feed me, walk me. Throw my stuffed lamb around the yard so I can chase it.
It didn’t take long, though, for the dog to size me up as the softie of the house. Almost immediately, she had me taking her out for two walks a day on the local trails. Before long, people were recognizing her, praising her looks or offering her treats. One fellow really wanted a puppy.
I’m like a shadow to the popular kid in the neighbourhood – the one who will jump in a dirty puddle or roll in horse dung and not care what people think. More people know her name than they do mine.
It doesn’t matter. I’m happy having a trusted sidekick who is always excited to see me – no grumplestiltskin from my pup – and shares in my love of the great outdoors. Best of all, she’s dragging me off the couch (although I often catch her on it when I’m not looking).
According to Stanley Coren, a renowned researcher and author of several books on canine behaviour, besides being a best friend, dogs are good for your health and longevity. This has been more than true in our house, with this energetic dog not only getting me walking on the trail but back on the bike – helping me shed pounds and get in shape.
In his book, Why We Love the Dogs We Do, Coren maintains dogs who match your personality make the best relationships.
I’m not sure how we match up. All I know is my big, gangly, scruffy dog who prances like a princess, runs like a crazed sprinter and loves to sprawl on the couch, has stolen my heart.