I met a man from Tennessee the other day – shortly after checking in at Harbor Lights in Islamorada, Florida. Once again, it was because of Max. I’m sorry I didn’t get his name.
He asked if Max was a Royal Standard Poodle, to which I replied I didn’t know… As we talked, he told me he had owned several Royal Standards over the years and they are amazing dogs.
“He’ll come into his own – his personality will really emerge when he’s about 2-1/2,” he told me. “You won’t believe the impact he’ll have on your life.”
His next words almost brought tears to my eyes. “It’s a spiritual experience,” he said. “He will just be amazing. The connection will be something else.”
I already feel a strong connection to Max. From the moment he “chose” me at the puppy farm, I have watched this astounding creature mature. To hear those words “It’s a spiritual experience,” really hit me deep in my heart.
When he was a young puppy, I would look at him sleeping at my feet and feel this huge burden of responsibility. It’s a different feeling from having children. Ultimately, the children grow up and are self-reliant. Dogs not so much. They are dependent on their owners for everything for their entire life.
It’s a huge responsibility – especially if you plan to work with your dog to make sure that he is polite, obedient – and most importantly – welcome wherever you take him. That goal is a lifetime commitment in itself. Once you start training a dog, it has to be maintained on a daily basis.
The best part is that once you begin, the dog wants to work with you! He wants to please you. He likes the mental stimulation. And he learns every day. And if the dog is highly intelligent, you need to be on your toes to stay one step ahead of him.
I’m just now appreciating how much my months of hard work and persistent training are paying off. Max is indeed welcome wherever we go. He plays well with other dogs, shows a modicum of restraint when greeting new people (translation: doesn’t jump up on them), walks well on leash, and will lie down and wait while I eat – at home or at a restaurant.
Tonight, eating dinner and feeling a little lonely, I realized something else this young creature has brought to my life. He is my constant companion, traveling over 1,500 miles without complaint, happily jumping out at every stop with a wagging tail and a doggie grin, and for the most part, happily jumping back in when it’s time to go.
Whether we stay in a classy La Quinta Inn with a pool and real breakfast, or a low-rent Red Roof with just the basics, he doesn’t whine or complain. We’re here!? Oh goodie! I get to sniff, prod and poke my nose into smells and grass that other dogs might have walked on! And some nights I even get my own separate bed! How great is that?
Going back to the idea of some fantastic spiritual experience when he’s 2-1/2 years old: I’m not waiting. We’re already having a fantastic spiritual experience – every waking moment of every day.