The topic of this post is something that's been percolating in my mind for a while. In short, it's that I've kind of gone through a few mental stages in the process of adopting and falling in love with our puppy Jellybean. I adore him, even through his strange puppy ways, even when he has diarrhea, and yes, even though he's probably not going to get much bigger than 11 or 12 pounds! To some, that last one might not raise any eyebrows. But I'll be honest and say that I was a little worried at first when I realized that we'd adopted a small dog. Today I want to share some thoughts on that journey and talk about the Small Dog Love that I've come to embrace!
I've always had and loved big dogs. Growing up, my family had a dog named Jack. Jack was a mixed breed that looked something like a huge long-legged yellow lab. We think he was a mix between a doberman, Great Dane, lab, and maybe some other large breeds in there too. He weighed 110 pounds, all muscle, and he was tall enough to eat off of a table. He was such a good family dog, and he's what "made sense" to me as a dog when I was a kid. The concept that a dog might be only 10 pounds didn't really cross my mind.
When Jack died (when I was in college), my family adopted an American bulldog mix named Huckleberry Finn (Huck for short). He's about 80 pounds and a short and stout barrel of a dog. He's always had a ton of energy and he fit perfectly into our family. He also jumpstarted my love of pit mixes.
A few years later when Grace and I adopted Casper, it felt natural to both of us to get a big hunk of a dog. At 80 pounds and MEATY, Casper felt perfect to us. He was the best snuggle buddy. When he died last summer, we adopted Willie, and at 60 pounds we even joked that he was too small for us! But it was obvious that Willie was also meant to be part of our family.
Then came Jellybean. We knew we wanted a second dog, and I've told the story on this blog about how we ended up with little Bean. But honestly, we thought he'd get a lot bigger! Now we've had him for about 10 weeks, and he's maybe grown 1-2 pounds. It looks like he's more or less at his adult weight now, and he's TINY! I can't even believe how small he is sometimes. He's one of the smaller dogs I've ever spent time with. When we go to puppy playtime on the weekends, he's consistently the smallest dog there.
If you're a small dog person, you might be wondering what the big deal is! But if you're a big dog person, you probably know what I mean. It's easy to think of small dogs as almost a different type of creature. When we were at the vet the other day, a gorgeous Burmese Mountain Dog walked in, and Grace mentioned that it was hard to believe that he and Bean are the same species. It's true that small dogs are a different sort of pet. But, I also think there are some unfair stereotypes of small dogs. I even believed some of them myself.
I think part of the problem is that I lived in an apartment building (before Grace and I moved into our house) where one of my neighbors had the most annoying chihuahua on earth. I feel bad saying that, because it's just an animal, but this owner was really irresponsible and the chihuahua would terrorize everyone in the building with howling and yapping constantly. Even before that, I kind of thought of small dogs as being annoying, loud, or just not as fun.
I realize now how wrong I was, and how I was closing myself off to a whole range of sweet animals that make amazing pets! My thoughts on the subject were really unfair and based in almost nothing. Now, having come to love a small dog, I see so many amazing, fun things about their size. It's not that I'm now saying small dogs are better than big dogs, or vice versa. By why close yourself off to either? At least, that's the conclusion I've come to :)
I think it's easy to characterize yourself or others as a "big dog person," a "small dog person," "a cat person," "a rabbit person" or whatever. There's totally judgments and assumptions about which one you are, and also potentially the feeling that you shouldn't stray from what you know. After we got Bean, I felt very insecure about people who probably mostly meant well making comments about it "not being us" to get a small dog. Anytime you get a new pet, there's a feeling of potential panic and questioning yourself (something I plan to write a separate post about soon), so it kind of hurt to hear anyone doubt whether having a small dog was a good thing. But that was probably because it reflected my own thinking, sadly! Now, I've come full circle and think it's so much fun to have a little stuffed animal of a dog. Here are a few more reasons why I have a case of Small Dog Love:
- They are super easily transportable and you can take them almost anywhere
- They "need" you more. For example, on a long walk Bean will get tired and want us to pick him up and carry him. It's the sweetest
- They can fit in odd places around the house, like balancing on top of a pillow on the couch or sitting beside your feet on your bath mat while you brush your teeth in the morning. Bean is more like a cat in this sense--he'll find little nooks and crannies to sleep in
- Being able to scoop them up and kiss their little snout is the best! It's fun to just grab Bean and smother him with love, something that's a little more difficult with a big dog
- They are undeniably CUTE. I think Willie is just as cute, don't worry. But there's something about having a mini little animal in your house that makes you just want to squeeze them
- They don't need to eat as much and don't need as much exercise. Overall, they're probably a little bit less expensive and a little bit easier to take care of than big dogs
- You get to feel like Elle Woods with your little lap dog Bruiser, haha! I'm kind of into that now that I have a little tiny pup
And I'm sure there are a million more reasons that I will come to discover as time goes on with Bean! I just wanted to share my thoughts on this in case you've ever, like me, doubted if small dogs were "as good" as big dogs. I'm here to tell you that they're awesome in their own right! I want to better my thinking on pets in general, and realize that animals are amazing companions across the board. I'm sure I've totally judged someone for having a "weird" pet, but I really shouldn't. Even though having a ferret might not be my cup of tea, I'm sure it makes someone's day to play with theirs. I just want to be more accepting on this front in general.
Here are a few more pics of my favorite small dog, Bean Baldridge!