I have been around dogs most of my life. My grandmother Ruth Allen was a huge dog person and passed on what I like to call the Dog Gene. Dogs of all sizes have brought me much joy over the years.
I think around the age of nine I discovered that I was more of a big dog person. My parents had a farm where my family would go on the weekends and during the summer. Our neighbours had a daughter my age who shared my love of dogs and horses. Maureen had two large Great Danes – huge, majestic beasts, really – and I loved to see them when visiting. One was all black and the other a tawny colour. We would take the dogs outside and run, shrieking as they ran after us; we were barely able to keep ahead of their long running gaits. I look back on these memories fondly. These days we are advised not to let our kids do this, but in the mid 1970’s things were different.
Another farm up the road had a black Newfoundland named Heathcliffe. I would wander over to see this handsome boy, who could certainly win contests for drooling! He loved lazing in the sunshine and being patted. Heathcliffe was a special dog; he was so gentle with his owner’s barn cats that would have kittens – a true feat due to his massive frame!
My family had a Black Spaniel named Freddy for a few years, followed by a Black Labrador. Over my twenty-five year marriage my husband and I have owned four Labradors – a chocolate, a black, and two yellows. Looking back it seems we got comfortable with having a medium- to large-size dog around the house.
I have had the pleasure of walking all different sized dogs. The smallest I have walked are two Mini Yorkies named Mitzi and Zoey, while the largest has been a Landseer Newfoundland named Rudder. His tail would clear a table with one flick, hence his name (coupled with his family’s love for all things nautical). His owner – a single man in his 30s – claimed that Rudder was a chick magnet!
Sunny is another small mixed-breed I walked for many years. He is quite a fire cracker and popular at the park. He could run like the wind and was the best referee barking at dogs wrestling and running with others to join in. If a dog veered-off he knew it and would fly back to herd them my way. He was extremely intelligent, too. I had to carry an extra set of car keys as in his excitement would lock all the doors in my van by pressing down on the locks!
One of the largest dogs I’ve walked was Socrates – a distinguished large black Goldie-poo who I walked for years. His eyes were the most expressive I have ever seen in a dog. He generated lots of attention by his big frame and the bounce in his step. He had a silly side, too, and could also be vocal which made him seem quite human at times.
I have lots of questions that would be interesting to research. Do people tend to get a dog that was the approximate size of the dog they grew up with? What factors besides the obvious determine the size dog that you prefer? For example, the size of your dwelling, the amount of exercise a dog needs, and your lifestyle.
I also wonder if we subconsciously make a statement with the size dog we hang out with. Smaller dogs certainly get instant approval from strangers on the street, especially those with children. The majority of the time a dog’s size can put people either at ease or unease. I’ve noticed that people always raise their voice an octave when talking to a small dog – similar to the voice they’d use when conversing with a baby or a small child. On the other hand, big dogs often have the “wow factor.” With bigger dogs passers-by ask questions galore e.g. “How much does your dog eat?”
The fun part is that the world provides us with every shape and size of dog. What I enjoy is the delight any dog’s size can bring and the strong bond between the two and four-legged. The health benefits of owning any size dog have been proven; research has shown that owning a dog extends your life. For me, the smiles and laughter dogs bring and their connection to their human counterparts is pure magic, no matter the size.
What is your size preference and why? Is your dog’s size something you have considered or did your dog “choose” you?
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