If you are reading this blog, likely, you love your dog. You may even look at your dog and wonder what in the world you did to deserve him or her. We already know that dogs love us unconditionally, give some of us a reason to get up in the morning, and that they may have even saved our lives in more ways than one. And more than once. I do know all of this, because it applies to me.
But as with any relationship in our lives, there is always room for improvement. “A relationship with my dog?” you might be thinking. Yes. You have a relationship with your dog. We all do. No, this isn’t about a guilt trip. It’s about your dog.
I might have mentioned before that when we adopted Brickle and Digby that I had unrealistic expectations. I pictured in my mind teaching them plenty of amazing tricks to amaze my friends. That would be amazing, I thought. I pictured walking down the road and amazing everyone with how obedient they were. I mean, weren’t all dogs supposed to listen to their owners, not exhibit any individualism or personalities? You may disagree with me, and that’s ok. You may be happy with your well trained dog, and I am amazingly happy for you. If your dog is happy with that. And if that’s the case. Amazing.
You see, one day, as I was reading my fourth book on how to be a pack leader and how to be an amazing dog parent, I wondered why I was so bad at this. Here I was, spending all my time reading and learning and going to classes to figure out a way to make my dog a robot. This was becoming a hobby for me…the hobby of being a dog parent. The hobby of “everything dog”. Was I losing sight of something? Oh, I sure was.
It was a normal weekend and I had taken my dogs to the beach. There I was, worried about the things we normally worry about at a dog park. Would everyone get along, would the people be super crazy or just a little crazy? And as I stopped to pick up some dog poop, I saw him. Brickle had went to a section of the beach and was sitting there, just looking out into the waves. He was looking. He was thinking. He was appreciating.
There was a heart behind that fur, a real soul, my friend. My best friend. And he wasn’t just a dog. He wasn’t someone I needed to control. Yes. Someone. He was someone that deserved respect, to be treated like I would treat any friend or family member. Why I was expecting him to know that he was my hobby? Because that is what our relationship had turned in to.
It was when I realized that I was in the wrong, that I began to think about why people abandon their pets, or give them up at shelters, or don’t value them. They don’t see their pet as anything but a hobby. And I don’t know about you, but many times, I start a new hobby and it lasts for about a week. Banjo. Piano. Drawing. Running. I could go on and on. These people who were giving up their animals didn’t see them as anything but a hobby that they got bored with.
What are some things that we as persons long for? To be understood and to be valued. I know that the best friends I have had in my lifetime have been ones that loved me for me. Do you love your dog for who they are? Do you see them beyond a hobby or your identity? When we work on our relationships with our dogs, we not only become better dog parents, but we learn to treat even other persons better. And once again, your dog does that for you. Aren’t. They. Amazing.
-Rachael Johnson, Girl Person of 2 Traveling Dogs