The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship
The phrase “man’s best friend” was uttered for the first time in 1789 when King Frederick of Prussia was referring to his beloved Italian Greyhound. The phrase is still used today when referring to dogs. Dog – man’s best friend. There are so many different ways these sweet, furry little companions make our lives better. Quite honestly, I can’t imagine where I would be without mine. I got my first dog when I was 11 years old. I was a chubby, shy kid who had moved a lot and was not having an easy time with my parents’ divorce. Things were made worse by the fact that I had exactly one friend. (In hindsight, I think she only hung out with me because of my GameCube.) So, when we found this tiny, freezing little black and brown puppy outside of an abandoned apartment complex, you can only imagine the backflips my little heart did when my mom said we could keep her. I named her Jade and that little 8-pound ball of fur changed my entire life.
The Struggles, and Triumphs
First, I had to learn how to train a puppy which meant many trips to the local library and many books borrowed and many topics researched – from chewing to housebreaking. It also meant experiencing the fresh terror of coming home to find the book titled “How to Keep Your Dog from Chewing” chewed up, and having to explain that to the local librarian.
We grew together though. I eventually learned she was part Rottweiler and would grow larger than I anticipated, in fact. She pulled me out of my shell. Things I never had to do or never felt confident enough doing I did because of having this little critter that depended on me. I learned quickly that she loved being and running outside. After a good run, she became a lot less inclined to chew up everything I held dear. (The GameCube had lasted a week.) We began roaming the neighbourhood together, exploring the parks and the streets. The combination of having Jade and being forced to leave my house led me to make friends with a lot of other kids in our neighbourhood, ones that didn’t care that my dog had eaten my GameCube. She was my outgoing friend. She always wanted to say hello to everyone we met, which meant I had to stand there and socialize while she got her pats in. Which led to me having friends! We moved a lot during my childhood and sometimes it seemed like we might not be able to keep Jade, which spurred young me into the action of finding pet-friendly apartments and living situations. I was the best 13-year-old realtor in the business.
When I went off to University, I couldn’t imagine not having Jade with me. So my fiance and I ended up living in a house 45 minutes away from campus (the only pet-friendly building available, with a nearby lake for Jade) this inconvenience spurred me into learning how to drive, not abusing alcohol in University (because I was always the DD) and living a much more active life than I would have otherwise. When I left for University, I was very overweight but getting up and going to the lake with my dog every morning gave me the reverse effect of The Freshman 15. I didn’t realise how much having her affected my life in so many positive ways until a few years later. I found myself newly single in my mid-twenties and moved to New York City. My mom decided to keep Jade for me, as my pup was getting up in the years and moving her into a tiny apartment in the middle of the busiest city in North America seemed unfair. I had never realised how much easier my beautiful dog had made my life. Walking around any big city with Jade was never an issue because if anyone made me feel uncomfortable she was there with her hackles raised to tell them to move along. I never felt scared exploring wooded areas or forests because I knew she would warn me of other wildlife or explorers and would have my back if some sort of over-the-hedge situation were to occur. I never startled at a floorboard creak because if anyone were ever silly enough to try and break in, they would be met with a ferocious bark from a 100-lb (unbeknownst to them) sweetheart of a dog. Suddenly, without her, I was faced with all these fears and insecurities, and loneliness I had never felt before. I missed Jade more than I’d ever missed my ex-husband.
After a couple years of living in New York, (and luckily finding a roommate who had a big dog) it was time to come home and be reunited with my sweet girl. It was like I’d been gone for decades, but also like I’d never left. The pure joy and loyalty that comes from a dog is unparalleled. It’s unending happiness, constant positivity, having someone always happy to see you. This creature that just loves you, walks, and food. Most friendships are unending mazes of complexity, navigating feelings and baggage and different personalities. Don’t get me wrong – human friendships are great! It forces us to grow and be better people and be more compassionate and understanding and personable. But sometimes it’s nice to just walk in the door and have a ball of fur fly at you with no expectations beyond, “give me love and food.”