The Lesser Known Perks of Having a Puppy
He Offers More Than Just Loyalty and Companionship
I always thought that the major perks when you get a new puppy family member were obvious: loyal companionship, (possible) guard dog, unconditional love. There are obviously plenty more than these, but whenever I read about how great it is to have a dog, these perks seem to always pop up somehow. Although they're all great, I personally believe that these three items don't even begin to scratch the surface of the best things about having a new pet and family member. As they say, sometimes it's the small things in life that mean the most. Yusuke (mine and my boyfriend Colin's dog) has shown me that there are so many more things to be excited about and to look forward to when a dog becomes a part of your family. And I want to talk about some of the ones that you don't find in your typical "dog book" or that people often forget about.
You meet 10+ more people a day than you usually would. Since I've moved to a new town where I literally don't know anyone except for Colin, this is a huge perk for me personally. It might sound funny to say, but a puppy is a serious ice breaker when it comes to meeting new people. I've found that when I take my dog to the park, or even (try) to walk him around my apartment complex, I'm always stopped by someone who is interested in my puppy. Why? First, puppies are adorable. Second, mine is not an obvious breed. Third, who doesn't want to give a puppy some love and pet him?! I know, some people are not "dog-people," but it's amazing how many conversations this dog has gotten me into. Since Yusuke is very socialized (I insisted on making sure this happened), he tries to walk or run up to literally everyone we pass when we're outside. And believe me, he wags his tail and goes belly-up to everyone he meets. Some people keep walking and aren't interested in him. I always respect that person's wishes when this happens and make sure Yusuke stops in his tracks. But most people want to run up to him as much as he wants to run up to them. Without a dog, I probably would not have met a lot of people so far in Springfield. Yusuke gives me the opportunity to introduce myself and ask whoever he walks up to if they'd like to meet my dog. Without a dog, I would probably just keep walking by all these people and never actually meet anything of them. I never imagined how many more people I'd meet every day just by owning a dog. And since I'm a pretty sociable person, this perk that my dog gives to me makes me so grateful each day.
Watching Him Grow. This one seems obvious, but I didn't realize how fast puppies grow. I know they say children grow up quickly, but dogs have a significantly shorter lifespan (which pains me a lot), and they typically grow to be full size within a year. Although, in this life, it seems like everything and everyone grows up too fast. Anyway, I absolutely love taking photos of Yusuke every single day. You know those parents that took photos of their child every day for 10+ years and then made a time-lapse video? That's basically me, but with a dog. What can I say? He IS my child. And I won't make the video, but you better believe I compare his photos every day to look at how much he's grown. Yusuke basically gains a pound a week (so far) and since he's born white, his red colors come in more and more every day. And I cannot get over how much more gorgeous he becomes every day.
You Always Have Someone Looking Out For You. This is especially true for red/blue heelers since they're known to be fiercely loyal to their humans. They watch you. Constantly. Yusuke will be deep into sleep and I will be walking in super stealth mode around the apartment to try not to wake him up. Honestly, I try not to wake him because sometimes I just need a little break from the constant playing, barking, biting and whining. And even though I'm trying my hardest to not even creak one floor board, he mysteriously always bolts up from his nap and watches me wherever I go until I stop. If I go into the bathroom and close the door, I usually come out with him laying right next to the door or he hasn't moved even one centimeter from his position from his initial wake up. Right when he knows that I've settled on a spot to be for a while, he goes back to bed. But if I get back up, you better believe that he does too. And if I go into the kitchen (where he can't see me at all from the living room), it never fails that I see a little Yusuke walking around the corner and laying on the kitchen floor (sometimes ON my feet), trying his hardest not to fall back asleep so that he knows where I am and if I'm going to walk away. I've seen so many pictures on the internet of owners taking photos where their dog is in the background, diligently watching what they're doing. It's funny to me. It's almost like they want it to look like they do it for your sake, but you know they're doing it for their own.
Seeing How He Reacts to New Toys. This is one of my favorites that I didn't realize would be a big deal to me before getting Yusuke. I should make clear that "toys" in this case is a loose term. Yusuke's toys range from what I've bought him to something that he thinks is one of his new toys. The latter is usually "trash." Some of his favorite toys to date are: a cheap plastic cup (which he loves to shove his muzzle into), an empty Sunny D container, newspaper scrap that's fallen onto the floor somehow, and the "cardboard container" from a 6-pack of beer. The one we've gotten the most playtime out of is the flat cardboard 6-pack. It makes me wonder why I buy him toys in the first place. Colin and I toss this one back and forth across the room to one another and he goes crazy. Yusuke-in-the-middle is one of his favorite games. He loves the noise it makes when it scrapes against the ground. He loves the way that it flies like a frisbee. He love/hates the difficulty of trying to pick it up off the ground with his mouth when it's laying flat on the floor. He loves trying to guard it from Colin and I as we swipe it off the ground from underneath him. I find it hilarious and adorable how much he loves chasing flying cardboard. Seriously, why did I buy him toys?
Noticing His Unique Markings. Every dog has markings on him that make him different from other dogs of his breed. Our dog has a big red spot over his entire left eye, another red spot on his right ear and a big red spot that covers his docked tail and booty. Most dogs carry similar but unique markings, depending on their breed. Some huskies have two different colored eyes. Lots of dog breeds have that white strip of fur that runs right between their eyes (Yusuke has this a little bit). Other dog breeds have white paws or legs and the rest of their body is a different color. My favorite is when their colors form in a way that leaves a heart or other beautiful symbol on their body. There are so many different ones it's impossible to name them all. Yusuke carries one that I didn't know dogs had until we took him home. He has different colored eyelashes. His right eye has white eyelashes and his left eye has red eyelashes. I don't know if this will change the more his colors come in or not. But I think the unique markings a dog carries are a part of what makes him who he is.
You're Never Bored. This can be positive or negative, depending on what type of person you are. It's a little bit of both for me. I like having things to do, but I also like my "me-time" where I do nothing. Heelers are known to always be active and wanting a job to do. It's in their blood. It's how they were bred. It makes my dog a little difficult from time to time, but I am definitely never looking for something to do with this little guy around. This puppy perk reminds me of my brother-in-law, Darryl. He's the type of guy who isn't all that into just sitting around and watching a movie (which, watching movies is basically Colin and I's lifestyle). He's always up and ready to go at the crack of dawn and wondering what we're doing next. Though I'm not near as antsy as Darryl when it comes to needing something to do, I do like the fact that my dog keeps me moving almost all day long. There's never a dull moment with an ACD.
He Sits in My Lap When He Chews on Toys/Treats. This one (and the next) are specific to Yusuke. Yusuke is not big on snuggling. I'll even try to snuggle up to him when he's napping and he usually gets up and moves. I'm never offended when he does this, I think it's funny. He's the kind of dog that just needs his space every now and then. I get so used to the non-snuggling Yusuke that it's always funny when he crawls into my lap. He only actively tries to do this when he's chewing on toys or eating a treat or when I'm driving. He'll do a trick for me and I'll give him a treat and he'll hold it in his mouth, walk into my lap, lay down and eat his treat. When we play fetch, he'll go get the toy, bring it back and instead of dropping it like we're trying to teach him, he'll walk right into my lap and continue chewing on his toy. I like to think that this makes up for our lack of snuggles. It's our bonding time together.
When He Temporarily Wakes Up From a Nap Just to Move a Little Closer to You. This is another thing that Yusuke does. He isn't the type to need to be touching you or laying next to you when he's sleeping. And Yusuke is just so quiet when he's tired that I hardly even notice when he moves around. He'll be sleeping in his favorite corner of the room and I'll be going about my business on my laptop or wherever else. Then I'll look in the corner and notice he's not there anymore. I usually have a .5 second mini panic attack. I'm not worried that he's gone, I'm worried that he's destroying something nearby. About 2 seconds later, I'll look down and he's slyly moved right next to my leg, foot, back, arm, etc. It's like he's telling me that even though he likes to sleep in his own space, he doesn't actually like to sleep alone. It's the little things like this that constantly remind me how much I love Yusuke.