This I Believe: Dogs Can Learn New Tricks, And Teach Them Too

Feb 19, 2016

Many people remember when they first laid eyes on a dog or puppy their parents said could be their own. Others don’t, because they’ve had that dog since before they can remember. Whatever the case, if you have one, that fur-baby has surely affected your life for the better. Dogs play such a huge role in human lives. They are our children, our comforters, and undoubtedly more important to some of us than many other things. These things are true for many, myself included.

When I was in eighth grade, I received a puppy as a gift. I always talked of wanting a dog, but the real thing was so much more than I could ask for. Dogs do so much more than just entertain or obey their owners. I believe that dogs help a person remember to live newly and see the importance in the simple things in life.

In eighth grade, the puppy I received was an eight-month-old blonde pomeranian named Taffy. My parents had picked her from the litter of her siblings from a shelter for only $100 -- a bargain for a breed like her. She had long, matted, dirty fur, a runny nose, and still needed all of her vaccinations. She was shy and scared, but would whine loudly whenever left alone. In all, Taffy was a mess, and she was perfect for me.

Taffy warmed up to us with time. I was her owner, and she followed me everywhere, right on my heels. She moped around when I wasn’t home, and she jumped all over when I returned. She stuck her paws and nose under my door when it separated us. She sat in my lap whenever possible and always did her best to keep my clothes warm by sleeping on them -- even if that meant leaving her fur all over them in the process.

The thing that I most cherish about Taffy, however, is the way she has changed me. In the four short years that I’ve had her, I’ve changed more than I thought I ever would. This change can be attributed to other things, of course -- high school changes everyone; I’m simply growing older; many things can happen in four years -- but I like to think Taffy had a part in it, too.

Taffy’s unfaltering loyalty has taught me that friendship is necessary to survive in a world like ours. Her determination to find me -- even when I’m intentionally hiding from her because it’s cute to watch her search -- has shown me that giving up on something when it starts to look hopeless is a sure way to lose. Her habit of always being there, particularly when I need her, has taught me that it’s okay to lean on others; it’s okay to be dependent sometimes. (This habit has also taught me that a small, fluffy dog makes a great pillow.) Most importantly, Taffy’s innocent happiness for the simplest of things -- whether it be a bone from the dollar store, or a treat, or the word “ride” -- has taught me that you don’t need everything you might think you do to be satisfied with your life. She has taught me that everything doesn’t have to be perfect for you to find joy. Personally, I think this is something incredibly important to learn when you’re a teenaged girl who doesn’t yet know where she’s going in life.

As I’m looking towards leaving for college soon, I’m certain that I’ll miss Taffy beyond words. But I know that she’ll always be waiting for me to return, and when I do, she’ll jump at me and maybe teach me a few things I missed while I was gone.