How Bringing a Dog into Our Family Benefited My Son

When I was growing up, I wasn’t allowed to have a dog. To this day, I’m not quite sure what prompted my parents to remain adamant in their decision that getting a dog was out of the question, but the dubious arguments were as follows: it’s torture for an animal to be locked up indoors all the time, if we get a dog we’ll be the ones taking care of it, do you know how much it costs to keep a dog? This is when I, for a lack of a better term, vowed to not only get a dog as soon as I came into my own, but that one day my child will have his or her own dog to grow up with.

And so the time came, I finished Uni, got a job working from home, moved out, and moved into my very own place with my husband to be. Everything seemed to have fallen into place, and I couldn’t wait for us to have a kid and introduce the little bundle of joy to his, or her, new best friend.

By the time I was nine months pregnant, I was thoroughly scouring the web and its numerous animal shelters, in search for a creature in need of a loving home and family. Long story short, little Michael was three months old when we introduced him to an overly-enthusiastic Border Collie-German Shepherd mix, or at least that’s what we thought he was.

Naturally, Michael and Copper hit it off instantly, wiggling, wagging and drooling everywhere – both of them. Before long, I started to notice amazing things happening as the two munchkins were developing together. Michael was a restless kid, defiant and headstrong, he took a lot after his father and while I love everything about my husband, I knew that I had to be very attentive and prudent in his upbringing, but I hoped that Copper would aid me in my mission.

And boy, was I right. Within a year, I started noticing all of the benefits I’ve read about, coming to life. Michael was energetic and adventurous but he understood how to play nice and treat his best friend with care. He seemed to have quickly learned the importance of patience and gentleness, and by the time he was four years old, he had developed into a loving, attentive child. The two were inseparable.

Michael took on the responsibility of caring for Copper completely, taking him everywhere he went. We bought him a bunch of cool dog supplies, things like chewables for his teeth and tugs to play tug of war along with various little treats. He was emotionally invested into the dog so much that he would not only spend the entire day by his side, but he would devote most of it to teaching Copper tricks that even landed them a second prize at a local mix-breed competition. How my heart fluttered.

As time passed by, Michael’s upbringing became more and more entrusted on Copper, and less on my husband or me. Michael was constantly with his best friend, learning not only how to love and respect others, but Copper also taught him responsibility and how to always be vivacious and energetic. We didn’t even have to push Michael to do chores or take Copper for walks, and while the Collie-Shepherd was always too strong for my boy, he seemed to have such a deep, emotional connection with him, that he always knew how to be gentle and to stay by his side. Their hearts were beating as one.

Sufficed to say that David and I were ecstatic to see how our little devil was growing up into a caring, compassionate, loving adult. In his later years, Copper helped our son through some hard times, and while my husband and I always gave our best to be his safe harbor, I knew that Michael would only respond to his best friend. In him, he always seemed to find his way.

Copper passed away last year. He was fifteen. And while the pain seemed unbearable at the time, I was proud, happy and certain that my boy became the man I know today because of him. Copper, I know that you are watching over us, and I just want you to know that I am forever grateful for what you have done for your family and your best friend. I will never forget you.

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