Why every year should be Year of the Dog

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“When the Man waked up he said, ‘What is Wild Dog doing here?’ And the Woman said, ‘His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.’” —Rudyard Kipling

Stryker’s future Instagram profile photo. Am I right?

Through my years as a writer, people often ask how my family feels about being thrust into the limelight as the subject of my stories. My daughter’sresponse sums things up nicely: “We’re used to it.” I can only hope the pets feel the same way, because February 16, 2018, rings in the Chinese New Year, and 2018 is Year of the Dog.

In our case, Stryker the dog.

We got Stryker from a childhood friend of mine when he was about 10 weeks old. He was masquerading as a German Shepherd at the time, and as puppies go, they don’t get any cuter than that. From the get-go, he had it all—cuteness, cuddliness and charm. All was well with a boy and his dog as Colton realized his longtime wish to have a German Shepherd to call his own.

And then it began.

The first indications that Stryker may have been more mutt than Shepherd came with off-hand remarks from his trainer at his obedience class. Apparently, the white fur on Stryker’s chest weren’t consistent with a real German Shepherd’s markings.

Comments about his size didn’t help matters, either.

[bctt tweet=”After about six months, I tempered my lie out of necessity—the eyes can only be deceived for so long, you know.” username=”bethunderwoodhq”]

“He hasn’t grown much in the last couple of weeks. This could be as big as he’s gonna get,” he’d remark.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, we had to put up with the same innocent but no less cutting remarks every time we went to the dog park.

“Oh, look how cute he is! What sort of mix is he?” they’d say. Or, “he’s awfully small for a real German Shepherd.”

People can be so cruel.

I’m sure it also goes without saying this whole not-a-real-German Shepherd issue went over like a lead balloon for Colton. And on the heels of every remark, Colton badgered me with the same question.

“Do you think Stryker’s a real German Shepherd?”

At first I lied. I flat out lied and said yes.

After about six months, I tempered my lie out of necessity—the eyes can only be deceived for so long, you know.

“He may not be full-blooded, but he does have a lot of German Shepherd in him.”

That part was true.

Here’s Stryker at the vet. Happy, happy, happy. Kind of like Odie from the Garfield cartoon. Did I mention he can hop?

But unless Ancestry.com or 23andMe develops a doggie spit test, the rest of Stryker’s DNA will remain a mystery.(Click here for a quick update!) If you ask me, though—and Colton would prefer you didn’t—I’d say Stryker is part German Shepherd, party hyena (think The Lion King) and part Corgi. Emphasis on the latter two, most days.

I say this because what Stryker lacks in body size, he makes up for in ears.

In fact, I suspect his ears are his super power.

After all, this is the dog who can detect and devour an unopened bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips on the counter without so much as a hiccup. This same dog can sense a full pound of uncooked bacon on the counter and scarf it down in the time it takes me to leave the room and brush my teeth.

Could a real German Shepherd do that? Okay, probably.

He can search and destroy a rotisserie chicken carcass from the trash, devour every piece of skin and fat and bone, and hide the plastic container behind a chair while leaving us clueless as to his gastrointestinal upset for more than a day.

[bctt tweet=”I say this because what Stryker lacks in body size, he makes up for in ears. ” username=”bethunderwoodhq”]

Could a real German shepherd do that? Again, probably. But that’s not the point.

The truth is that no other dog—not even a real German Shepherd—would be our Stryker. He’s the truest of the true and most loyal of them all.

As we kick off the Year of the Dog, and every year that follows for that matter, we wouldn’t trade Stryker for anything in the world.

But I may be willing to negotiate the cat.

Here’s one of my favorite videos of Stryker. Just press play!

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