Heart dogs

I’m wondering if people believe in the idea of a “once in a lifetime” dog.

You know, the dog in your life that no other dog can compare to. The dog that is held above all others. The dog that somehow stole your heart even though you have had or will have many others.

I’m not sure what I think of this concept. Ace could certainly be that once in a lifetime dog for me. But then again, I am only 27. There will be many more exceptional dogs.

As I get older, I grow more and more attached to my dogs. I loved our family golden retriever, Kacy, more than I thought I could love a dog. When Kacy died, our next golden easily filled that void, and so on. Each loss is harder than the last for me, and each new dog raises my standard for a “great dog.”

Will all my future dogs be compared to Ace? I hope not. Every dog should be given a chance to be herself and be appreciated for her own uniqueness.

A friend of mine recently lost her dog and told me she had no intention of ever getting another. Her “once in a lifetime” dog really would be her one and only, she said. I thought that was unfortunate. Everyone is different. Everyone handles loss differently, I know. It just seems wrong for a true dog lover to go without a dog for long.

So what is it that puts one dog above all others in an individual’s life? I don’t know.

Maybe it’s someone’s first dog. Maybe it’s the best trained dog, or maybe it’s the naughtiest dog.

Maybe it’s the dog that carries someone through childhood, adolescence or into adulthood. Maybe it’s the dog that stays behind when a spouse leaves for good. Maybe it’s the dog that comforts someone who finds few connections with people, the dog that truly is a best friend.

Maybe a once in a lifetime dog is no different than any other dog. It just happens to be the dog that crosses into an individual’s life when for whatever reason she can devote more time and attention to that dog. She notices that dog a bit more than the others.

I can’t say whether Ace is my once in a lifetime dog or whether there is such a thing for me.

The bond between Ace and I is very, very strong. He is the first dog I can call my own, the first dog I went out as an “adult” and adopted. He helped me transition from working in an office to running my own business. He has brought me to a new kind of happiness, somewhere I could not have gotten without him. Together we have gone on countless outdoor adventures and found ourselves in the quietest, most peaceful scenes.

Ace is just about as ordinary as they come – another big, black dog – but he’s my mutt, a good friend and a good boy.

Have you had a “once in a lifetime” dog?

Ace the black lab mix playing in the snow in Gooseberry Park

Ace the black lab mix playing in the snow in Gooseberry Park

Ace the black lab mix playing in the snow in Gooseberry Park