Anyone who knows me, even slightly, knows how much I love my dogs. I don't make it much of a secret. They accompany me to the office most days, frequently join me on vacations, and to be truthful there aren't many decisions I make without considering their well-being first. A photo of the two of them together adorns my mouse pad at work. And even when they are not lounging in it, their bed, (as well as their toys and water dish) occupy a corner of my office.
Anyone who knows me well knows something else: however much I love Phoebe, there's just no getting around the fact that Tucker is ... my favorite. It's hard to admit this, even to myself. Even harder to write it here. But undeniable just the same. I don't favor Tucker over Phoebe, at least in any way that I can identify. Phoebe is greatly beloved, not a red-headed step child. It's not even that I love Tucker more. It's just that it's a different type of relationship, and it has been from the first - an instantaneous and powerful bond that has only strengthened over time. A bond unlike any I've ever had with any other dog, in a lifetime of living with dogs.
But this post isn't about Tucker. It's about Phoebe. My little flying monkey. My court jester. The second-best dog in the world ...
Unlike Tucker, who has pretty much been who he is for as long as I have known him (from approximately ten months old to now, at nine and a half years), Phoebe has, looking back on it, actually changed quite a bit in the four and a half years she's been with us. She arrived as a six month old puppy, un-housebroken, untrained, and although very friendly and affectionate, a bit underconfident in new situations or with strangers. Four and a half years later, with a good mentor in Tucker, and some basic, positive-reinforcement-based training, she's matured into a pretty model canine citizen, and even has her CGC certificate to prove it.
She's also just a really fun and funny dog to live with. Her facial expressions are priceless, and her fairly significant under-bite often contributes to this in a most comical fashion. She's a very happy, "up" dog, who can also be tremendously comforting in the event you are sad or in need of comfort. She will come to you, and allow you to hold and cuddle her as long as you want, her tummy to your chest, with her head on your shoulder, until you feel better. Should this fail to cheer you, she will cover your face, or any part of your body within reach, in enthusiastic kisses. She'll do most anything for a treat and loves to learn, which makes her easy and fun to train (she was a star in agility class!). When she's happy to see you, her tail wags so fast it almost seems like it will wag right off her body. Although she has never lived with any (except the little girl at her foster family's house), she loves kids, and is very gentle and sweet with them. (To his credit, Tucker is as well.)
There are so many things about Phoebe that endear her to me, so many reasons why I love her that this post would have to be a lot longer in order to even begin to list them all. The thing I love most about her, though, would have to be her irresistible (at least to me) combination of sobriety and joie de vivre. She's a very soulful dog in a lot of ways ... and when she gazes off into the middle distance as she is doing in the photo above, it's easy to project all sorts of deep thoughts into her head that don't really belong there.
The truth is, if Tucker didn't exist (perish the thought), Phoebe would be just about the perfect dog. As it is, as good as she is, and as much as I love her, she is still second best. Then again ... when you're talking about a dog as great as Phoebe, second best is still pretty amazing.
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