Working with dogs has given me the opportunity to get to know some incredible dogs and their people. I couldn’t begin to tell all of their stories, but here are a few of those I remember best. Names may have been altered slightly for anonymity.
Tucker was a chow mix. She expressed a growly play style and often had her ruff up. She was quick to use a growl or sharp bark to reprimand an over-excited playmate, and was one of the dogs that I suspect was rejected from other daycares. She was never in a scuffle, much less a fight, and played well with lots of different dogs.
Enzo was always up to some kind of mischief. He could find a way to get dirty after a bath no matter how careful I was. He loved to sneak into a hidden spot when I let out a playgroup so he could run up and down the aisle, causing chaos among the separated playgroups.
Eddie was a real dog’s dog. He liked to lie in the dirt and drag himself through it with his front paws. He drank water in huge licks that sloshed it everywhere. He made lasting friends and hung out with them like cool kids under the tree while the other dogs played. Being with him always made me feel confident and calm, as he exuded these characteristics.
Milo and Otis
Milo and Otis were inseparable. They were immediately distinguishable from one another by their expressions, one concerned and the other sweetly happy.
In general, Boser was willing to go along with the group, but if he didn’t no amount of convincing would change his mind. Determined doesn’t begin to explain the steadfast commitment of this dog to his ideas. He was a friend to every dog, however, and often helped nervous dogs become accustomed to dog society with his good-natured friendliness.
Cooper was one of the few puppies who was a regular at the daycare and I got to watch him grow up day by day. He was a curious and good-natured puppy who was always striving to fit in with the big dogs.
Spot was one of the few dogs I’ve known that I wished I could take home. He inspired everyone to play nicely and made friends quickly and easily. He was constantly calming his female companion, Valentina, who never liked to be far from his side. He could play with almost any playgroup with ease. He had a habit of standing with me; not leaning, not asking for pets, just standing with me in calm and steady companionship.
Stewie was my little darling. He was mischievous and had a mind of his own. He would steal toys to get everyone to chase him and then roll over and over as the entire group caught up to him. His best friend was a big boxer, who he liked to hold down and groom between play sessions. He liked to be the last one to come in from the yard, and would wait until I called to come racing in. I loved Stewie, who was there nearly every day, and he was one of the dogs it was hardest to say goodbye to when I left the daycare.
Henry was the first Saint Bernard I’d known, and I found that he had a personality to match his size. He was mindful of his size when playing, but had a funny bouncy playstyle that always made me worry he was going to crush his playmates. If he wanted me to do something, he would take me by the arm and try to lead me. It was an odd experience to be led by an over hundred pound dog and challenging to convince him to change his mind, but he was always compliant to my requests in the end.
Thanks to the Dogs
I have learned so much from the dogs I’ve known, not just about dogs, but about myself as well. Dogs teach me about friendship, the value of consistency, and the pleasure of sitting in the sunshine on a nice morning. I still learn more from dogs every day, and the more I learn, the more I come to love and respect these incredible, playful, joyful creatures.