Owning Zoe and Charlie has been my first true experience being a dog owner. I've wanted a dog of my own since I was a little kid. I'd had these images of me throwing a tennis ball playing fetch, or hiking down a trail with a full backpack, hiking boots and a hiking stick with my dog at my side (never mind the fact that I've never gone hiking before), or on a road trip just the dog and me, like I was Han Solo and dog would be my Chewbacca. Of all the dogs I had dreamed would be my companion a Chihuahua was never one them.
I wanted a more macho kind of dog, one that was wolf-like in appearance, like a German Shepherd or an Alaskan Husky, one that would be a reflection of my masculinity. Funny, huh?
So instead of a big, rugged dog I ended up with two Chihuahuas that have a combined weight of no more than 13 pounds. And while neither one will ever fulfill my dreams of playing frisbee or will make me look like a tough guy walking down the street they have still fulfilled me in a way I hadn't expected.
I used to think that people that did things like taking their dogs with them everywhere they went, or had portraits taken with them, lavishing them with money and attention were absolutely nuts. What's wrong with these people? I understand you love your dog, but for Christ's sake they're DOGS, not people. You must have a mental condition. But now I think I understand.
I have learned so much from my dogs. Zoe and Charlie show me unconditional love. When I come home from work every day they are the ones that welcome me home, tails wagging, jumping up trying to lick my face. They live in the moment, not dwelling on past. They don't hold grudges. If they get mad, they don't stay mad. They forgive almost instantly. They give so much and ask for so little in return. Now I understand why people spoil their dogs. They're just trying to reciprocate.
I have also earned a greater appreciation of not just dogs, but of all animals. They have opened my eyes to rights of animals. I make sure that whenever I see a news item about animal abuse I make a point to put it on Digg and add a comment or two. I now have a greater sympathy for shelter animals and the situations that led them to being there. I have always felt that Pit Bulls have been victimized by ignorance and discrimination, but now the subject enrages me. Isn't that funny? Who would ever think that a Chihuahua could serve as a goodwill ambassador for a Pit Bull?
Without having Zoe and Charlie in my life I doubt I would have ever read Cesar Millan's "Be the Pack Leader". From that book I have learned how not only does the "pack leader" mindset help you with dogs, but how it can help you become a better human being. The calm assertiveness needed by an effective pack leader can also be applied in one's own person-to-person interactions as well. Learning to communicate calmly with your dog is great practice for communicating calmly with people. The principles and mental states are no different.
My dogs have had a powerful affect over me. They may look tiny, but they are strong in ways I never could have imagined.
By the way, you can see what I've "Digged" visiting http://digg.com/users/jonlow67