Can Dogs Have Best Friends?

Best friends: in People and Dogs

Though I can’t prove dogs have best friends, I believe they do based on what I’ve personally experienced with my best friend and the direct parallel I’ve seen forged between canines and their companions of choice.

A best friend is a rarity, coming once in a lifetime for some or as a few spread throughout the years for others. My relationship with my best friend since childhood is one of the deepest intimacy, in which it feels like we were made of the same piece of cloth and share the same heart. We can be our authentic selves and know that we are loved not in spite of it, but because of it. No one on earth can reach my heart the way my best friend can, because a piece of my heart was made specifically for her, and no one else can fill that place.

I see that type of friendship within certain relationships dogs share with others. For some dogs it’s another canine, while other dogs befriend other species, people included. Even the least social and most choosy of dogs can develop an intimate relationship with a best friend.

Quixote and Quora
Courtesy of Mikkel Becker
Quora, left, and Quixote were immediate best friends.

The Difference a Friend Can Make

My parents' dog Quixote is a great example of that phenomenon. The Pomeranian mix is a “people dog” who merely tolerates other dogs or has loose social relationships with the bigger dogs on my parents’ ranch but seemed fairly distant from other canines. My parents considered adopting another dog, since the bigger dogs seemed bonded to one another and Quixote seemed left out. Yet adding another dog did not seem like the appropriate solution for him, as his tolerance toward the other dogs ran only so deep, especially if they appeared to infringe upon his relationship with his human family.

Whenever I went home to visit, the Pugs were treading in turbulent water around Quixote, who stiffened and prepared for a fight over seemingly small and insignificant incidents that were a big deal to Quixote. For that reason, another dog seemed like it would add more stress than good to his life.

The one small dog in the household changed completely, though, on the day shelter dog Quora found our family. Based on her charm and physical likeness to Quixote — she looked as if she could be a sibling — my parents decided to adopt her. Immediately, Quora and Quixote were a pair. The grumpiness and gruffness of Quixote, especially around the human family, disappeared with Quora. Instead, his behavior reflected the affection of an inseparable bond. Though Quixote can be short tempered with other dogs, he gives Quora priority access to all the best things in the home. Showing no propensity to guard against her, Quixote instead defers to her, even though she displays no signs of being intimidating to get the access she’s given simply out of what appears to be his own desire.

Reagan and Teddy
Courtesy of Mikkel Becker
Reagan poses with her best friend, Teddy.

When a Dog Chooses a Person

Dogs are man’s best friend—and girl’s best friend, too. My now 4-year-old daughter, Reagan, was adopted two years ago by a 12-year-old Pomeranianwho took on my little girl as his person of choice. Though it’s true that many dogs are nervous and uncertain around children, Teddy actively sought out Reagan every moment of the day. He not only wanted to sleep by her, walk by her and nuzzle up next to her, he even was allowed by her day care provider to accompany her while she was there, since they both seemed most calm when with the other.

We had Teddy for only one year, as he was a rescue with numerous health issues. But during our short time with Teddy, he displayed such love, devotion and loyalty to my daughter that he helped shape her in ways that are still visible. There’s not a week that goes by when Reagan doesn’t tell me that one day when she gets to heaven she can’t wait to see her Teddy and give him a big hug and play with him, because she misses him so much and he was the one who chose her as his best friend.

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