Ever since I’d learned what a dog was, I had wanted to own one for myself. My parents attempted to feed my obsession with dog themed posters, books and films until they finally came to terms with the idea when I was around nine. Our search for the perfect companion surprisingly short lived – we found a child friendly and all loving dog in the second rescue centre we looked in. However, he wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

Being nine, I had expected our first dog to be a stumbling little puppy, preferably a desirable breed such as a Labrador or a Golden Retriever. Yet, the dog that had been perfectly matched to our family, was a plain brown Staffy cross, who had long passed the cute puppy stage, with the very stereotypical name “Max”.

After some security checks of the house, Max was able to move in, I remember coming home from school somewhat underwhelmed to see the short adult terrier cross coiled up in his new bed. For me, the excitement of having my own dog had seemingly ended in disappointment – I felt like I’d been robbed of years growing up beside a little puppy, picking his name, training him day by day and watching him gradually grow into his over sized paws. Instead I was stuck with a middle aged mongrel, who looked just like any other plain old dog. There was nothing striking about his appearance, or even his personality (primarily) he just stayed rather reserved for the first couple of weeks.
That was until his personality opened up. The first morning I really realised what a character we had brought in, was when I came downstairs for school one morning to discover a tennis ball was somehow capable of covering the entire surface of the living room floor. Tiny shreds of brown plastic and green material lay scattered everywhere – with a joyous looking Max laid playfully in the ruins. With his tongue hanging out, his back legs sprawled out like a frog and his tail thudding the ground eagerly, I realised something; I was looking into the fun loving eyes of an over grown puppy.

Max’s personality grew each day, as did his confidence with our family did. I’d take him for walks with my friends, who he would greet enthusiastically with lots of doggy kisses. We started taking him on car rides, where he was completely in the zone, just managing to peep his nose out the window. The beach became his favourite destination, as we discovered his underlying passion for swimming and rolling in the sand. Every day, as a family, we bonded with our new recruit to the point where my parents felt like they had a second son. However, not only did we discover Max was a lightning bolt of jubilant personality – it became quickly apparent that he had incredible potential with his intelligence.

When he came to live with us, Max had already been taught the basics, but it wasn’t until I tried to extend these tricks further that I realised just how intelligent he was. Within weeks, he had progressed from the simple “sit down” to “sit up” and “lay down” to “roll over”. A few months in and he was topping this, even perfecting some doggy dance moves I never thought I’d be capable of performing with my own dog! Not long after that we had moved onto agility, where he demonstrated even more potential. His trainability extended so far, to the point where I just had to show him off; we started entering some local dog competitions, where the audience actually became Max’s biggest fans. One of the greatest moments of my life, was returning to a competition venue to find a large group of people recognised my little rescue dog and were excited to see his showcase his talents for a second time.

Although I’ll never be able to say I saw my first dog develop from a puppy, what I can see is I saw my first dog develop from a timid and reserved rescue dog, into a blossoming bright and unique much loved best friend. What I did learn from owning Max, is that every dog is special and unique. No Max, Buster or Buddy is ever the same, and each and every one of them is deserving of a loving family to let them discover their true personality. And as I look at him now, laid by my side (his usual spot) I honestly couldn’t imagine any other dog being in Max’s place.

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