Something I’ve realized since adopting our dog last year is that dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds are as individual as people. And they, like us, are all capable of being exceptional–exceptionally strong, exceptionally smart or exceptionally destructive–depending in the circumstances.

The Shaffer dog has proven himself to be exceptional too–wise beyond his years–and has taught me a lot about how silly we humans can be when we hide our true selves or doubt our capabilities.

Here are some things that I admire about my dog:

  1. He can decide in about 5 seconds whether he likes you–I actually do possess this skill too, but I rarely make it so apparent by growling or baring teeth at the other person. I admire the honesty in his approach.
  2. He’s not afraid to take on the big dogs–Despite his small stature, our dog has an attitude equaled only by an alpha male wolf. If only I could think so highly of myself, then maybe taking on a world filled with inadequate opponents would not be such a big deal. I admire his courage.
  3. He’s only willing to perform the same tricks for a certain period of time–Our dog likes to remind us that he isn’t a mindless robot programmed to perform monotonous tasks indefinitely. I can certainly empathize–jumping through hoops over and over again can get old. I admire his ability to set limits.
  4. He’ll do anything if the reward is right–One caveat to #3 is if the reward offered outweighs the frustration of performing repetitive acts of obedience. I again concur with my canine companion–everyone has their price and I admire his flexibility in the face of adversity (I was going to say, I admire that he’s only human, but…).
  5. He’ll put up with the people he loves–Despite his obvious distaste for such things as being brushed, manhandled by our nine-year-old and dressed up in a doggy tutu, he’s generally willing to tolerate all of these things as long as it is the immediate family doing said things to him. Anybody else looking to touch him inappropriately or embarrass him–he’ll bite their hand off.  I admire his clear sense of boundaries.
  6. He keeps trying, even when he fails more often than succeeding–If you ever get the chance to see the Shaffer dog play hide-n-seek, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Basically, no matter how many times we hide in the same place, our dog never finds us on his first try (or second, or third…). Although I surely have no idea how it feels to fail, I admire his determination to get the job done.
  7. He’s constantly in training mode–Our dog is can’t stop tracking things. He’s a sniffer. There’s nothing his nose can’t do–except of course find the actual living thing. He’s still working on that part and he may be working on that part for the rest of his life. Poor guy. Practice makes perfect though and that I admire his self-discipline.
  8. He thinks he can do anything–Despite his size and previously discussed tracking limitations, our dog will stalk birds and squirrels with the same intensity as any skilled hunter out there. Looking the part and believing in yourself are sure to propel you in the human world as well and I admire his positive self-image.
  9. He overcame his fears–Although our dog is a tough guy on the outside, he did come with some irrational fears (such as walking over bridges and jumping into and out of the car) that may have limited him throughout his life, but he got over them. I admire his inner strength.
  10. He’s adorable and funny–Our dog is so freakin’ cute with his sweet little puppy looks. It really throws people off when they see his adorable face juxtaposed with the tenacity and aggressiveness of his play. He also has a knack for doing crazy random funny things, which you gotta love (we have to submit some of his antics on America’s Funniest Home Videos one of these days). So, I admire his eternal youthfulness.