My Life in Dogs

Rebecca Brame

March 2, 2022

The heart dog, the right time right place dog, and the dog you fall in love with slowly…

If all goes according to plan, I will be welcoming a puppy into my home in mid April. This puppy is currently in their mama’s belly – due to be born 2/15.

This has me thinking about all the dogs in my life at various times. How we found each other, what I wish I knew then that I know now, what will I learn later that I will wish I knew now, and the biggest question on my mind – how and when will we connect?

I’ve had love at first sight dogs, I’ve had “its going to take me a minute to know you dogs”, and I’ve had “what have I done?” dogs. All the dogs I’ve shared my life with have worked their way into my heart at some point. Sometimes- if you’re lucky- the connection can be incredibly deep- spiritual even.

The dog who was first “my” dog, was a vizsla lab mix named Ninfa. We became friends when I was 11. As a pre teen introduced to the concept of love and the idea of soul mates- I spent many hours researching if your soul mate could be a dog. I decided on my own that the answer was yes- there was no other explanation. The unconditional bond I shared with this dog was so deep. I felt seen, and understood. I struggled with depression, anxiety- anger- existential teenaged angst. I told her everything, cried, and just felt better with her near me. She gave me courage and dared me to keep trying. Its hard to put the bond into words- the term “heart dog” has been used as an attempt. If you know then you know.

I went to college and Ninfa stayed home with my mother and sisters and the 4 other dogs we lived with. I wanted desperately to bring her with me- it wasn’t an option for many logistic reasons- but I also know it wouldn’t have been fair. I moved from home in Mexico City to a dorm in Philadelphia. The culture shock was nearly too much for me, I cant image how she would have coped. I missed her desperately.

In working with dogs and their people I’ve often come across “second dog syndrome” The relentlessly comparing the new dog to their predecessor. The first step is to recognize the individuality of each dog. Cherish your past dogs and welcome the yet unknown in your new one. My first dog was not an easy one (in fact she was so not easy, my mother brought in a dog trainer in an attempt to live with this energetic quirky beast- thus introducing me to a dog training world I didn’t know existed, also introducing me at age 11 to my first dog training mentor experience. After Ninfa I didn’t have another dog for almost 10 years- between college then a move to New York City where I was never home in a tiny studio apartment. You’d think think Id be safe from second dog syndrome, but this was not the case.