If you grew up with a sibling close in age I wonder if you were like me.  My brother was always just there, we had the same friends and my only escape from him was that whatever he liked I would hate.  Like for example, dogs.  He loved them so much I naturally hated them.   We never had a dog growing up, but he never shut up about loving dogs.  We used to even play a dumb game of tag called Doug the Dog so he could chase us around the house barking and stuff. 

We have a ton in common, but chances are, if he loves something I immediately tell him I hate it or it is dumb.   Even to this day, I want to start following European soccer, but my only requirement when looking for a team was that I couldn’t pick Manchester United because my brother loves them so much. 

I’m not sure why this is, maybe just because I was the oldest, maybe because we are both boys.  Maybe because he could beat me up ever since I could remember so I needed a mental edge on him.

I have never really been an animal person, never mind just dogs, at all actually.  When we would sit at the dinner table if someone mentioned an animal I wouldn’t be able to eat.  My brother saw my weakness and would purposely talk about seeing a dead squirrel or a deer. He knew, like all good brothers, exactly what my kryptonite was, and he made sure he used it when he needed it.  We had to outlaw animal talk at the dinner table so my dumbass brother outlawed sports talk there too.  He said if he couldn’t talk animals I couldn’t talk about the Bruins or Red Sox.  Have I mentioned having a brother is awesome??

My wife grew up with a few different dogs.  They were constantly in her life.  When I met her they had this HUGE scary dog named Nickolas.   He was nice and calm when the family was around, but the second it was just him and I in a room he would look at me, growl and definitely think about eating me.  He never did it, maybe he realized I would be around for a while or whatever, or he grew to tolerate me (probably similar to my wife actually!).

We had kids really young into our marriage so my wife didn’t ask for a dog until my youngest started school.  We were so busy with life she didn’t realize she was missing something.   Then one day about 9 years ago the questions started.  My wife is smart; she started by asking me herself.  I was able to say no, but then she enlisted the kids.  I’ve never had a dog so it was easy for me to say no the first few times.  But, my wife knows if she wants something eventually she will get it.  They put the full court press on.  Made a million promises, they would walk him, they would clean up his shit, they would train him….I wouldn’t have to lift a finger for the dog…

So, we have had a dog for 8 years now!  I have been walking him, cleaning up his shit and letting him sleep in my bed for 8 freaking years.   The kids are good at saying “Max needs to go out”, or more specifically, “Dad, Max needs you”…

He must know that I am not a dog person though.   He has worked hard to be my buddy.  He follows me all around the house.  If I head to the basement to grab the laundry I push the door open an extra second cause I know he will be running down the stairs to make sure nothing crazy happens down there.  He lets me get up the stairs and waits for me to turn the light off and darts back up the stairs.    He won’t go to bed until I do.   If I go out at night, he takes my spot on the bed, but if I am home he sits downstairs at the foot of the stairs and waits for me to tell him I’m going to bed.  He is my shadow…

He watches the house, barking at any and everything that drives or walks down the street.  He has a really loud bark for a little dog.  He’s also a giant baby, but his bark is scary so he is our protection.  He’s also a STUD.   He is a yellow lab mix, but his Dad was like a midget dog so he is small.  He looks like a puppy.   He would be a PERFECT dog to take with me to a dog park and help me pick up a date.   Unfortunately I  am happily married so his good looks go wasted.  But, I know he would be a great wingman.

My house is filled with estrogen.  I live in a house with a wife and two growing girls.  Three women…three women… THREE WOMEN….

My boy dog and I are completely outnumbered.  We lose every battle.   Sometimes I swear he talks me off the ledge.  He tells me with his eyes “Remember the last time you tried to help during a fight?  Just come over here and pat my belly and ignore them and they will figure it out and no one will yell at you”.

As I mentioned in the beginning, I am not a dog person.  It took this dog YEARS to see that I had a heart.  I just got annoyed with him, thinking he was just another responsibility I had.   My wife and kids loved him right from the beginning… hung with him, patted him, called for him to sit with them.  They kissed him and treated him like a king.   And I kicked him and yelled at him for YEARS.   He was in my way.

But, he never stopped being right next to me.    If I got up from the couch to get a drink, he jumped right in my spot.   When we come home from somewhere he barks like crazy for the wife and the kids, but if he sees me he stops barking.  He waits at the door and assumes his duty to follow me whenever I go.  Without really thinking about it, I fell in love with him.  He is my buddy.  He is never in a bad mood, never needs anything from me, and never talks back.  He is like a most loyal soldier that I never ever thought I needed.

I wish I could tell him he made me a dog person. I wish I could tell him he changed me.  He helped soften me up.  He doesn’t know that when I am old and grey I will have a dog right next to me.  It won’t be him, which is the worst part of all of this.   But, some other dog years from now will have a spot on my bed for him all cause of my boy Max.  Some other dog will make my heart just a little bigger than it is now.

He still around, still hopefully has tons of years with us.  Lots of times left for me to scare him by turning on the vacuum.   A million more lint brushes to attempt to get the dog hair off our clothes.   A million more times he stays quiet all day only to bark like a lunatic when I am on a call for work.

I think the best part about him is my feelings don’t mean anything to him.  He doesn’t care if I had a shit day or the best day of my life.  If you have a dog, none of this is news to you. Dogs are good for the soul.

“Everyone thinks they have the best dog.  And none of them are wrong”

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