The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Recently, my father suggested buying a robotic dog. They don’t make any messes, they’re predictable, and they’re easy to care for, he rationalized. He was kidding, of course…I think.
Regardless, his semi-serious joke coupled with the fact that this is the first extended period I’ve spent away from my very much non-robotic dog, Quincy, has made me feel quite sentimental. I’d like to take a moment, therefore, to reflect on the bond I share with my furriest of friends.
Some biographical information: Quincy is a Yorkshire Terrier. He is currently 14 years old which makes him a senior citizen by canine standards. He was born in Missouri (the fact that I now attend Washington University in St. Louis, located in the state of his birth, makes me smile) but has lived in Maryland with my family for the near-entirety of his life.
We met when I was in kindergarten and he was only a few-weeks-old puppy. I can still recall sitting on the school bus on the way home one day, bouncing with anticipation and singing an improvised song with lyrics celebrating the new addition to my family. Despite the confused gazes of the unfortunate students seated near me, my elation remained. And when I waddled down the steps of the bus and met my mother at the corner, a tiny, brown puppy was cradled in her arms.
Quincy can be feisty, especially when he’s hungry for food (which is pretty much all the time). He likes to sleep in and gets very excited about joining us for a movie marathon on the couch, but also loves to go for walks (during which he’ll stop to sniff every plant and cable box in sight) and to race around the house with his favorite blanket. If you scratch him in just the right place on his neck, he’ll flip onto his back and demand a good belly rub. He goes crazy when the doorbell rings or when he meets a new person or when anyone stands up too quickly (How dare we move without his permission!). Since he had to get most of his teeth pulled (Yorkies have notoriously bad dental health), he tries to fill the gap in his mouth with his tongue, the tip of which pokes out from between his lips in a thin, pink, adorable line. For some reason, he’s afraid of gum (seriously, if you’re chewing gum, he won’t come anywhere near you), and we suspect he has mild canine social anxiety (he gets nervous and shy around other dogs, opting to hide behind my mom’s leg). But he’s certainly extraverted when it comes to people – he has far more human friends than dog ones, and adores sitting on laps.
But beyond the quirks that give Quincy personality, he has a special relationship with the rest of my family because he makes us laugh hysterically with his antics. The time when he leaped into the air like a graceful ballerina and swiped the cookie hovering midway between the table and my mouth from my hand. When he takes forever to create a “nest” for himself on the couch, freezing with a look of pure mortification and guilt should he realize he’s being watched. When he rolls around as if being exorcized on my shag carpet after a bath, trying desperately to get dry and rid himself of that awful smell of shampoo. When my mom, terrified of flying, is forced to go on an airplane, regaling her with such stories of Quincy is the only way to relax her. When something has depressed me, through my tears, I’ll scroll through my camera roll, smiling despite myself at images of my pet.
Quincy certainly elevates our social status – our neighbors are more likely to come over to chat when we’re walking him than when we’re out for a dogless stroll. And, as every dog owner understands, an instant connection is forged when two people realize they both have four-legged friends. Phones immediately come out and pictures are swapped and relationships are built. And Quincy’s also a great conversation starter. When forced to engage in the dreaded icebreaker at a school event, my “interesting fact” is always that my dog was admitted to Brown University (when touring the campus, our guide thought he was so cute she admitted him on the spot). I’ve connected with many a stranger because of Quincy’s presence in my life.
And, most of all, Quincy is unfailingly loving and comforting. He does all the things he’s required to do as a dog – greeting us, his tail wagging like a metronome on steroids, each time we return home from an outing, for example – but then goes above and beyond. I still remember coming home miserable from a challenging tutoring session and feeling like a dunce cone would materialize on my head at any moment. Instead, Quincy materialized by my side and sat with me until I’d finished crying. When my family prepares to go on vacation, Quincy becomes despondent, tail tucked, showing us how sad he is we have to leave.
So, yes, my dad is right: taking care of a canine is a lot of work. But I know that my life is a million times better thanks to the humor, presence, and love of my favorite dog.