I was born into a small dog house. Our little Yorkshire Terrier, Willy, was not even a year old when I was born. I loved that silly little dog. He was a really good dog and used to howl only to one thing; the theme song to the Andy Griffith show. I remember cuddling with him often when I was sick or lonely and, upon reflection, realize that he sure put up with a lot of kid-like torture from me in the form of dressing him up and probably carrying him around more than he would have liked. He was the only small dog in my life.
The rest of my years growing up, we only had large dogs and when I had my own dogs they were medium sized. While I always loved all dogs, I grew away from really liking smaller dogs and I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe it was because most of the small dogs I had encountered over the years were the stereotypical yappy, nippy, hyperactive, and sometimes annoying dogs you see in cartoons. Or maybe it was the whole “dog as fashion accessory” phase that really irked me. I found it incredible that celebrities were stuffing small dogs into handbags and carrying them around town while I constantly worried about them becoming resource guarders. And of course we had really big dogs in the house (German Shepherd, Dobermans) after Willy.
But over the last few years, I’ve met some amazing if not downright near perfect small dogs! I mean really great! Mixed breeds of the unknown and purebred pups under 30 pounds have really captured my heart. After years of being a strict larger dog lover, I’ve been so fortunate to have this Renaissance with the small dog. There is a long-haired Dachshund at the animal hospital where I also work whom I adore to pieces. His occasional visits to pick up food or medication or just to say hello always make me smile with pure delight, and they start and end with many tummy rubs. Another client has a recently adopted mixed breed, smaller female who has had some shyness issues. With the help of a good trainer, proper care when she visits, and lots of love from her new owner, her interactions have yielded really wonderful results and she is now actively seeking affection, treats, and wanting to lie in many laps. And the buck doesn’t stop there! I could go on and on. Friends, relatives, colleagues, neighbors and clients at the animal hospital and in class at AnimalSense have brought so many wonderful small dogs into my life that I wonder why I stayed away for so long. For all of our AnimalSense clients who have brought some of the most wonderful small dogs to class that I’ve had the pleasure to work with, I thank you.
If you find yourself a lover of a specific kind of dog or specific breed of dog, I implore you to get to know other kinds of dogs. Or even a cat! Or a horse! Or a goat! Most likely you will be pleasantly surprised. Whether it’s a Great Dane or a Pug, purebred or mixed breed that has you scratching your head, give them a chance. With all of the breed specific language out there lately, isn’t it time we just simply embraced Canis Familiaris? Of course some of us are really drawn to certain types of dogs and we all have a preference to which kinds of dogs (and animals in general for that matter) that we prefer to be around, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I think that’s a beautiful thing. But how fun it has been for me to change my perspective and be surprised on many occasions by dogs I labeled in my mind as maybe not quite as cool. I’ve always loved all dogs and all animals but really making a choice to seek out a kind of dog we don’t normally gravitate to can be a lot of fun. It has been for me and I hope for you too. Dogs really are amazing creatures no matter what size, shape, color or breed. Embrace them all. Or rather, toss them a smile and a tasty treat.