I’m a dog person. In my home, my dog completes my family. I grew up with a dog and affectionately recall my bond with her. I think it’s pretty cool to see my daughter CP share a similar relationship with Vince.

Vince, the resident German Shepherd, is very big and sheds. A lot. And of course he needs to go outside. Even when it’s rainy and snowy and cold and dark and muddy outside. And especially when there’s like a hurricane or blizzard or something going on that makes it that much less appealing to leave my cozy spot on the couch. And he goes through a lot of dog food, which gets very expensive. (Where are those BJ’s coupons?!) And did I mention the shedding? I did? A rogue hair ball always manages to rear its ugly head when a guest comes over or happens to make a cameo appearance in the background of what would be a sweet Instagram of my Bean doing something awesome. That fur always manages to thwart my attempts to keep a clean house. And there have been some pretty unforgettable “incidents” that have required steam cleaning. I’ll admit, Vince is a lot of work sometimes.

But I love him. And more importantly, my daughter loves him. She greets him every morning when she comes down the stairs and runs to him when we walk through the door every afternoon. “My buddy Vince!” He has knocked her over, left her covered in slobber, and eaten a couple of her “friends” – (we covered for him). One of CP’s chores – I use this term loosely – is to feed Vince and announce that “breakfast / dinner is ready!” She also helps with brushing him and loves coming with me to take him out. Additionally, she likes to announce when he poops, but I haven’t really found the teachable moment in that.

I’ve found that she is comforted by him when she is frustrated or having a bad day. A simple snuggle into his fur tends to soothe her terrible mood. She brings him offerings of shoes / toys / whatever she thinks he might like while he patiently and perhaps confusedly allows it. The other day she unloaded the lazy susan and created a tower of canned goods in front of him – just a whole pile of beans and soup for him. Although forever all up in his grill, she understands that she needs to be gentle with him: no ear or tail tugging, no interrupting his meal time. In return, he protects her and loves her right back! And I think he secretly loves those hugs, even though his expression is the equivalent of a human eye roll.

Vince is getting older and having a tough time getting up and down stairs more recently, so I guess he’s been on my mind. I took him outside tonight after peeling myself up from being snuggled down on the couch, where I was quietly dreading the return to work tomorrow. The coldest night we’ve seen since last winter! FML! And there’s my husband … a weak attempt at appearing to be asleep in front of the TV. Suited in a ridiculous mishmash of cold weather gear, I trudged outside. I suddenly found it invigorating, and took him for an off-leash lap around the field across the street from my house. Thanks, Buddy, for helping me to clear my head and get some fur therapy. How else would I have noticed how bright the stars were tonight?

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