Decades In Dogs | Memories With Our ‘Best Friends’

Decades In Dogs | Memories With Our ‘Best Friends’

Decades In Dogs | Memories With Our ‘Best Friends’ – Do your non-doggy friends find it strange that you mark time and remember holidays by the dog you were showing, your lap dog or the family watchdog?

If I say, “Stop right now and recall an image of your best friend,” it will probably be a dog. Sure, I said, “best friend,” so that unfairly prodded your subconscious… but now you are smiling as you realize what just happened.

Your mind now has a concept. So, if I ask, “What was your most thrilling moment?” and the image of a judge pointing at you for a Group win pops into your mind, it’s okay. Your brain cells were already firing on dog-related memories.

This doesn’t mean, however, that saying “I do” or experiencing the birth of your first child wasn’t way more important. It just means that your brain is focused on the current subject. Okay, so let’s take that proverbial walk down memory lane with a leash in your hand.

For most of us, childhood remembrances of your first dog popped into your frontal lobe just now. It doesn’t matter. You are the only one who knows, but interestingly, it is often a very clear image; recognizable as your first “best friend.”

It may be the dog you got for Christmas when you were a child. It might have been a gift you weren’t thrilled about, but you “got used to it.” If you are actively showing dogs or are a professional trainer, it may be a specific dog that always comes to mind. As an aside, there are a million stories out there of beloved dogs that “came back” in some form that the owner recognized.

Why are there no stories about a cat or parakeet or horse? Who knows? Usually we are silent about such things because they are, indeed, “spooky” and likely to raise an eyebrow. But if you have spent decades in dogs, whether breeding, training, showing or just enjoying the laughs and the inexplicable comfort that dogs give to humans… you know what we’re talking about.

As a breeder, you’ve had it happen. Perhaps you planned to “recreate” your top-winning dog or, even more amazing, you picked up that wiggly puppy to put it back on its mother’s nipple and, suddenly, without conscious thought, your hand brought the pup to your face.

You, the toughest guy in your brigade or the all-business private secretary, breathed in the soft smell of new life and you were, for the moment, mesmerized. Yeah, you’re thinking… for a moment in time, all is well in the world and your mind is—for a few seconds—untangled as you focus on the newborn.

Don’t say it hasn’t happened. Admit that you feel a rush of emotion and, now that you’re thinking about it, comfort, peace, contentment,… Imagine, just like a human fetus, that puppy has been floating in amniotic fluid, which in all species is loaded with bonding pheromones that work in two ways… and the newborn finds the nipple by scent and by touch, and the mother imprints on her newborn through the same process.

Decades In Dogs | Memories With Our ‘Best Friends’
Westminster Beagle in a Bowl

Don’t get your “ruff” up. Of course, you are human, not an animal. Oh well… As a notable aside, when delivery is by C-section, whether human or canine, a bit of nature’s plan is lost. A mare knows her foal by that first scent as she licks it dry; ditto canine and human mothers.

Sure, you have towels handy, but when you hold a newborn pup and inhale the unique scent that is loaded with bonding pheromones, something incredible happens. Ranchers and zoo keepers have noticed this, but scientifically, the bonding scent seems to happen more commonly with dogs than with any other species.

This doesn’t take decades to develop in dog breeders. You are either turned off by the “mess” or you are inspired, proud, bonded at birthing. It can happen the very first time you deliver a litter, when you hold a newborn and inhale that sweet, musty scent… or never.

But now you know why some of us spend decades in dogs. We are “addicted” to that inexplicable newborn scent. Science doesn’t address it, but as humans we know that whether it is a mare, a deer, a leopard or a chimp, the miracle of birth is “addictive.”

And the fact is, some of us have been “in dogs” long enough to admit we like it that way!

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  • Barbara “BJ” Andrews is the breeder of over 300 AKC Champions including over a dozen All-Time record holders. She is the author of 8 breed books and founder of 3 AKC Breed Clubs. In 1998 she launched the world’s first public website (TheDogPlace.org) followed by TheDogPress.com and TheJudgesPlace.com which, as part of the NetPlaces Network, serves all facets of dog ownership and exhibition. She and husband Bill pioneered the Akita, Miniature Bull Terrier, and Toy Fox Terrier to AKC recognition and BJ served on the board of each Parent Club. She has judged in England and AKC Specialty Sweeps. She was awarded UKC All Breeds approval but has never applied for an AKC judges license because it could interfere with objective reporting on the sport.

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