Max is a Dog

Yes, Max is a dog. He may try to fool me sometimes by acting like a model, but he is definitely a dog.

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This week included national dog day and I got to celebrate Max’s species with many other people by posting and looking through dog pictures online. Maybe not the celebration Max would most prefer, since it didn’t involve any food and he doesn’t understand pictures or the internet, but it gave me a reason to think about Max and why he matters so much to me…

Then he came up and slobbered all over me, because he is a dog. He made some weird noises while licking himself and pestered me until I took him outside to walk, because he is a dog.

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On the walk he tried to sniff everything and pee on most things, because he is a dog. When he saw a rabbit, he forgot everything (including the leash around his neck attached to my arm) and sprinted after it, because he is a dog.

Then he ate something nasty he found on the ground while I wasn’t paying attention, because he is a dog.

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Sometimes it is hard to understand Max’s behavior (and I don’t even have to deal with the bad puppy stuff). I find myself thinking, “Why won’t you just learn not to eat that gross stuff you find outside,” or “Can’t you see I’m tired and don’t want to play,” or “Do you really have to shred that toy and leave all the scraps all over the floor?” I too often try to treat Max like a person and expect him to live just like me.

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Then Max reminds me that he is a dog. He does dog things, which make no sense to me as a human. But I shouldn’t get overly upset about it nor try to change him and make him act like not a dog.

Rather, I should appreciate his doggyness, even when it is hard. It is easy to appreciate his joyful presence, loyal companionship, friendly demeanor, and contagious fun-loving spirit. But his doggyness extends beyond just those positive qualities and I am to love and accept him in all his weird doggy ways, just as I am to love and accept other people in all their weird peopley ways.

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Max innocently expresses himself according to his biological makeup. And it is a complex mixture of all sorts of weird stuff. But that is what makes him interesting and unique and a being worth posting pictures of online. Sometimes it is tough, but embracing him as a big, hairy, bundle of energy is really the only way to embrace him and honor him as the dog he is.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/bcvideo/1.0/iframe/embed.html?videoId=100000003386942&playerType=embed

(apparently I can’t embed this video, but it is still well worth watching)

So, thank you Max for teaching me that we all are complex, complicated beings. And thank you for helping me understand how to love you as the dog you are: smelly, slobbery, curious, energetic, and sometimes downright gross.

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