Saturday, March 9, 2024

Is It Ok to Have a Favorite Dog?

It is ok to have a favorite dog? Definitely. Dogs don't know who the favorite is, and as long as their needs are getting met, they don't care either. It's not like human siblings who need to be treated as equally as possible by their parents lest they face lifelong psychological issues. Dogs aren't that complicated.

This wasn't totally clear to me when I began my journey as a dog-owning adult. Brisbane was the very first dog I owned as an adult, and he was my entire world. The best term I have found to describe him is "heart dog". A dog you well and truly connect with on a deeper level than any other. A dog that makes your heart swell with love when you look at them. I still get a wonderful warm feeling when I think about Brisbane and how looking at him made me feel. He was the greatest dog influence in my life. 
When I got my second dog, Ru the chihuahua, I didn't feel the same way about him. I tried. I loved him very, very much. But we didn't have the same bond and he didn't occupy the same spot in my emotional center that Brisbane did. I thought it might be because he was such as easy dog and I didn't spend nearly as much time training with him or orchestrating my life around him. 

Next came Sisci Godzilla, and I thought for sure I would build the same type of bond with this new cattledog training project. It didn't happen though. For a while I thought I must not be trying hard enough with these new dogs. When Brisbane was fighting his terminal cancer, I was taking a beginner agility class with Sis. One day I brought Brisbane along and the instructor let me run him through a short sequence of obstacles for fun. The jumps were the wrong height for him, so I asked him to lay down and stay while I went around moving them. Brisbane was perfectly happy to stay until I told him to take the first jump. This impressed the rest of the class, and I was so proud of how much time I had put into that dog. 

After I lost Brisbane, Zip the border collie came into my life. Zip and I learned a lot about herding sheep. So much that we have done many public demonstrations and been the subject of multiple YouTube videos and even got a spot on a Disney+ show. Zip is an absolutely amazing dog. But I still don't feel that tug at my heart the way I did about Brisbane.
But then Puff came. Puff is my new heart dog. She is my favorite dog and also my naughtiest dog. Puff can jump fences. Puff can open doorknobs. Puff lets other dogs put of crates. Puff is a shameless counter surfer. Puff is missing the part of the typical border collie brain where she cares what I think. She has no shame and thinks she is not only a good Puff, she is the best Puff a Puff could be. Puff makes my heart melt every time I look at her, and I can't stay mad at her no matter how terrible she is.
Your favorite dog might be your oldest dog. It might be your best behaved dog. Maybe your favorite dog is the one that was by your side through a rough patch in your life, or that arrived when you started a new chapter. Your favorite dog may be the one you have spent the most time training, or the one that just likes to cuddle and doesn't demand so much effort to keep happy. Sometimes your favorite dog ends up being your favorite for absolutely no reason other than that your heart just chose that one. 

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