During my 21 years of living, there has never been a day that I have lived without having a dog. From Black Labs to Swiss Mountain Dogs, my family has adopted them all. My parents always emphasized the importance of rescuing animals to give them better lives, a belief that turned into them filling the house with big dogs that had nothing to give but love. Each dog was different, but they all brought comfort to us in a unique way during different stages of our lives. Buca and Harley, my first two dogs, slept every night next to our beds and cribs to ensure that no one bothered us during our sleep.
Georgia and Bella would be there to run around outside when we needed some fresh air and laughter. Luna and Coda would be there to cuddle when you needed a good hug. It was always amazing to me that dogs who had tough lives prior to adoption could still have such trust and affection to give to humans. Because of this loving connection, we loved to watch anything dog-related on the TV during family time, especially since were convinced that our dogs enjoyed it just as much as we did.
The National Dog Show was and still is our favorite event to watch on Thanksgiving every year. However, despite our adoration of our pets, we could never help but laugh at the irony of their breeds being featured in the Working and Sporting Groups while they slept next to us or begged for the food that we were cooking. It was always funny to us that dogs who were bred for specific conditions or circumstances had evolved into liking things that they were not traditionally supposed to. Lu and Harley, both Swiss Mountain Dogs bred for the snow, ironically loved the summer and the heat more than anything else. The Yellow Lab Retriever, Bella, struggled to return a tennis ball that was tossed to her.
Coda, my cousin’s Great Dane, thinks that she’s small and tries to sleep in areas that she does not fit. Watching our dogs living their lives like this was comically amplified by seeing their relatives on the TV posing and strutting like they were bred to do. I remember us kids joking to the adults about how we could never bring home “Best in Show” with the fleet of crazy and quirky dogs that we had. While we would all laugh, my Grammy was always quick to tell us to hush because they were “absolutely perfect just how they were.” Looking back, I must have thought that she had flown right out of the cuckoo’s nest for thinking that they were just as flawless as the dogs on TV. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my dogs more than anything and thought that they were amazing for being so loyal and caring. But by no means did I think that they had the ability to be award-winners due to them having odd tendencies for their breeds.
It wasn’t until last year’s National Dog Show broadcast that I realized how wrong I was for thinking that way. Sitting in the kitchen with the dogs sleeping around like they always do, I was watching the show with my family. My older sister made a joke about the Great Dane acting like Coda by hopping around and working hard for the kibble that his owner was holding. As we watched closer, I noticed that most, if not all, of the dogs had their own little unique traits. Some liked to pose for the camera; some had an unusual trot while walking; some liked to nuzzle close to their owner.
It made me see that even the best of the best had the same little quirks that my dogs did. I realized that the perfection that my grandma was talking about did not necessarily mean that they had no flaws – it simply meant that they were just loveable, loyal dogs that were beautiful in their own particular ways. While I have watched many of my “perfect” dogs grow and pass on during my lifetime, the love and adoration that I had for them will stay with me forever. From each one I learned a different lesson and a different form of unconditional love. Since starting my internship with Vizion Group PR and working with The National Dog Show, I have been reminded of the lessons that I have learned from my dogs about perfection being beyond comparable. I am thankful for this experience and for the lifetime that I have lived with my dogs and cannot wait until I am settled out of college so I can adopt one of my own.
Photo descriptions in order from top to bottom:
–(from left to right) Me, My Older Sister Elizabeth, my two cousins Devon and Quinn, holding Bella the lab (2006)
-(from left to right) my dad holding my childhood dogs, Buca and Harley (black), alongside of my grandmother’s dog Baci (white)
–my dog Georgia comforting me before my first day of school (2011)
–Luna, the Swiss Mountain Dog, and I sunbathing (2021)
–Coda taking her usual nap on a chair she doesn’t fit in (2022)