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In Praise of Eight Paws

A friend of mine likes to say you get one great dog in a lifetime. My response – you get one great lifetime if you have a dog. Bonus points if you have two. 
We’ve recently added Riley to the family, who’s an Australian Labradoodle. If you are unfamiliar with the breed, picture a five-year-old’s version of an impish teddy bear come to life and you’ll be close. Picture a teddy bear that likes to steal bras from the laundry and drop them at your guest’s feet in the living room, and you’ll be closer. 
We assumed that Taz, my five-year-old Aussie doodle, would take to the newcomer quickly as he’s an affectionate boy who likes new friends including chickens, dogs, and (oddly) Canada geese. We assumed incorrectly. One sniff of the new arrival and Taz locked eyes on mine and barked for five minutes straight without breaking contact. My dog, I learned, could dish out shame more quickly and effectively than my mother at an unauthorized high school house party. Brutus got less of a guilt trip from Caesar.
In a few days, there was a begrudging acceptance, in a week or two friendship, and over the months the level of affection they had for each other was so deep that it hurt a little to watch. I had forgotten about that part, how unconditional love from a dog is so comforting, but it comes with that soft ache of knowing that our time with them is always less than we’d like. If life was fair, dogs would get one great human in a lifetime. And perhaps they do, at least they act like their owners hung the sun and the moon, despite our failings.
One advantage of two dogs and there are many, is the opportunity to watch them interact with each other. There are some definite rules they live by, and throw a new dog in the mix and the rules get changed again. If you watch long enough, you learn some stuff. What I’ve picked up so far boils down to ten ruff rules for a happy life:
Wag before you sniff, sniff before you bark.
Greet your friends like you haven’t seen them in years. 
If you aren’t getting dirty, you’re not having as much fun as you could.
Joy is contagious.
There is always time to play and something to play with. 
Grudges are like squirrels, it’s best to let them go.
Be excited to go outside, it’s where good stuff happens. 
If your friends are curious, be curious too.
Hang your head out the occasional window.
Everyone always likes a treat.

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