Although I might subtly brag about my dog from post to post, I rarely flat out say it – Ace is better than other dogs.
Part of this is due to my consistent training, time spent with my dog. A lot of it is because Ace is well into middle age and calmer.
Mostly I just got lucky.
As I come and go throughout the day, Ace calmly lies on his dog bed. He never chews or even touches anything that is not his. He doesn't climb onto the couch or my bed. He doesn't counter surf.
If he is invited for the ride, he patters over to me, head low, tail swaying.
When Ace rides in the car, he stays in the back seat no matter what. If I run errands, I always come back to him curled up and asleep right where I left him. If he waits in the car while I walk other dogs, he never barks. The other dogs have no idea he's even there, watching us walk away.
I trust my dog around all other dogs – puppies, little dogs, reactive dogs. He has been so helpful in socializing other dogs that would otherwise have no dog friends to play with. Ace is truly a best friend to many. And he's a best friend to me.
If a dog is aggressive, Ace knows not to respond. I didn't teach him this. He just knows.
If a dog is really making a scene – lunging and snarling, perhaps – Ace wiggles his body and turns to me.
He is gentle with my cats, giving them slobbery “kisses” when prompted. If a cat wants the bed Ace is using, he politely moves to the floor.
I could welcome any small animal into our home and Ace would accept it as family. My dog picked up a baby bunny one spring. He carried it to me and put it down – no puncture wounds, no injuries. The bunny, covered in drool, hopped away.
Ace sniffs but doesn't kill toads, spiders or crickets.
Even when a black bear wandered across my parents' yard in Wisconsin, Ace just stood there holding his tennis ball. Their springer spaniel chased the bear away.
Ace gladly accepts direct eye contact from little kids, along with ear tugs, nose pokes and full body hugs. He also lets puppies bite his jowls and curl up next to him on his bed.
On command, my dog will throw back his head and let out a drawn-out southern hound dog howl. He'll “sing” for minutes at a time.
Without a leash, my dog will not run away.
My dog will roll over. Speak. Crawl. Twirl. Back up.
My dog will gladly sleep in until 10 a.m.
Ace can fling his drool onto our walls, well above my head.
My dog can swim without touching land for over an hour. He also likes to curl up on the boat, nose in the air, smelling whatever it is dogs smell.
Ace will go on 6-mile runs or full-day hiking trips, but he can also go days with no exercise and remain calm. He's never once complained.
My dog is all black except for his graying muzzle, white tuxedo chest and white toes. His white toes have black spots.
He is a black lab complemented with some kind of (lazy) hound and maybe pointer, laid back, yet eager to go on any kind of outdoor adventure. He lives to make me happy, to tag along, have fun and become friends with every living creature. He adores anyone who talks to him, especially if they have food or better yet, a tennis ball.
Ace has smooth, silky ears and a smooth coat. I love how you can see the muscles along his back and legs. I love his white teeth. I love pressing my nose into his head and kissing that low spot between his eyes. “You're a good boy, Ace.”
He seems to welcome my hugs and snuggles. He likes to make eye contact when people talk to him. He tries to connect with people, sit close, lick faces, seek attention. He's whipped his tail so hard he's actually cut it open a few times.
Ace will sit, stay and come when called more reliably and more enthusiastically than any other dog I've met. I've only met one or two that heel better.
He has never once growled at me, even though I've lost my temper and yelled at him for doing nothing wrong – more than once.
When we go on walks, he loves to climb the playground equipment, leap over the swings, run down the slides, crawl through the tunnels and cross the bridges. I seek out beams for him to walk across, fences to clear, picnic tables to jump on, snowbanks to race up and plastic bottles to carry.
Ace knows not to barge ahead of me on the stairs and that I usually won't tolerate running or playing in the house. He knows that it's acceptable to lie right where the carpet meets the linoleum but not to put one toe in the kitchen while we're eating.
Ace will instinctively retrieve or carry anything – we're working on “beer me” so the mutt can truly have a purpose 🙂
I don't know any other dog who will carry around an ice chunk, obsessively tossing it at me when we have no tennis ball. It's kind of embarrassing at the dog park.
The older he gets, the more I appreciate every second spent with my dog. I notice his long sighs at the end of the day, the sound of his nails on the floor, the way he scratches at his collar before he breaks from “stay,” the way his eyes follow my every move, the way he sticks his nose into the snow in order to smell something wonderful.
Ace is a very good boy.
Please share with me your stories of your best dog in the whole world.