Beagles are dogs perfectly made for boys. The younger the boy the better. For both are designed to wander, forbidden or not. And to find their voice. Boys need a companion on their journey and beagles have the stamina for it. And someday, they can lend their nose to find the way back home.
Herding dogs are well-designed for women of a certain age. Women who know their desires but are just discovering the path. A woman takes strength from a guide who merely seems to be along for the ride. To huddle with when lost or forlorn and to leap and yip with when the moment calls for it. One to keep track of the things they will recklessly discard. To keep a careful watch when a mother’s eyes are far away. To gather all the pieces and keep them organized. A black and white dog to help define the shades of gray.
Hounds are for the horsemen, and terriers too. Rugged and gritty with dirt under their nails from the digging. Breathless from the chase. Tireless and fearless and ageless. Able to keep up and not afraid to scrounge up a meal of their own when their partner is busy attending to a winded horse or a wounded calf. Full of song and yearning.
Hunting dogs for hunters, both too rowdy and keen for regular company or walls to confine them.
Shepherds for the shepherd, for trading watch through the long hours. All sharp eyes and stiff shoulders, tail to the breeze.
Mothers and fathers seem to favor the heavy chested dogs with thick blonde or black coats. Tolerant and playful with broad rounded paws and big grins. Good babysitters who are proficient at cleaning the kitchen floor too. And happy to stretch out on the couch after the children have gone to bed. To watch the game or old romantic comedies together and never care if you cry into their necks.
Among my favorites are the dogs I see accompanying older men. Men whose backs are bent from experience, gray from the years. They enjoy the company of small dogs, with billowy coats of white or caramel or buff and jet black eyes. Resting at their feet or in their lap or curled in an old dog bed folded over just so, nestled down between a corduroy leg and the arm of the recliner. A mixed breed to mirror the mixture of memories in the wrinkled eyes. Father, husband, grandfather. Soldier, worker, son. The knotted hand rests on the mantled shoulders. Snoring gently so as not to wake one another.
Is it any wonder there are over 400 breeds of dogs and countless combinations. So many different people, so many stories, each needing a familiar to take on the walk of life.
Whatever the breed or your stage in life, be sure to have a dog. Have one right after the other. Or many at once.
Decide first the life you wish to lead and then find the dog to help you live it.
Photo Credit, Wendy Dahl of Dahl Behavior