Miss P the beagle took home barking rights at theWestminster Kennel Club Dog Show, but there’s no debating that the real top dog is the one sitting next to you.

Whether you’ve trained him to stay off the couch or he’s watching the show snuggled closer than your sweetie, he didn’t become your best friend because of a shiny coat and perfect posture. It happened the same way any friendship does: shared interests, mutual respect, enjoying each other’s company.

And, like the best of friends, along the way your dog made you a better person, too.

Turned you into a morning person: Bet the last time you got up before 7 a.m. was during freshman year of college for the required newbie classes. But when your dog has to go, so do you.


Made you more emotionally intelligent. There is nothing more motivating to develop any latent telepathy you may have than trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak your language (or any language). The next thing to mind-reading is learning to read their body language — you know which wag of the tail means they’re happy, and which means they’re impatient and your shoe is going to pay for it.

Taught you good management skills. Whatever their size, dogs tend to have larger than life personalities. Some habits are endearing, while others require your guidance to manage. You learn to give encouragement, acknowledge success and, yes, discipline when necessary. Dogs only respect you if you respect them — a lesson direct from Management 101.

Held you accountable. Making a plan and sticking to it maybe wasn’t your strong point before. But when there’s someone expecting you at a certain time that you can’t just blow off or reassure with a text, you’d better be there. Run out of dog food because you didn’t feel like dragging a 30-pound bag home? Guess Fido is eating your dinner.

Put things in perspective. Dogs can sense when you’re feeling gloomy, and they’re not so much into giving you space to resolve it. You can sulk, and they may commiserate with you for a while, but not indefinitely. Life is still going on, and there’s no better reminder of that than a dog who still needs everything they needed yesterday, and will need tomorrow — and that means you have to be the same person you were before whatever happened to cause your gloomy mood, too.

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