Yes, yes, yes, of course your dog is the most beautiful dog ever born.  No one would deny it.  But what about the dogs you don’t know, the ones you see in the park, on the sidewalk, in the bank and sometimes on the bus or in a museum?  What makes those dogs beautiful?  What makes strangers make a point of saying so, of stopping and gazing with admiring eyes?  Could be genetics.  Beautiful mom, beautiful dad.  Could be grooming, a shining coat with no tangles.  Could be coat color or even coat length, some people have a dog in their heart that looks like Lassie, after all.  Or it could be, hold your hats, behavior.

No one ever told me my handsome dog Flash was beautiful when he was stressed or overly excited and pulling me down the street.  (Yeah, yeah, we were going too fast for comments, but it was more than that.)

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No one ever told anyone with a snarling dog, a cowering dog, a leaping up on people dog, a dog choking against his collar, a dog scarfing up pizza off the sidewalk, a dog whining, a dog snarking, a dog who had an itch when you called him to come, a dog running away when you called him to come, no one every said THAT dog was beautiful.  But the calm dog, the dog walking happily at your side, the dog waiting on her towel at the end of the pool…

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Sky at Chelsea Piers

the dog sitting next to the Picasso until you get the shot you want…

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those are the dogs you will be told are beautiful.  The dog who gazes lovingly into your eyes, the dog who brings back the ball you throw, the dog who doesn’t pull, who has some self control, whose eyes shine with intelligence and humor because he’s got some education under his collar, the dog who’s fit because he’s well exercised, the dog whose coat gleams because he is given wholesome meals, that dog is beautiful.  He needn’t have taken his breed (if he has one) or cost a fortune.  He could be a rescue, a mix, a dog you found in an alley and took home to find him a person of his own and then, as luck would have it, it turned out to be you.  That dog can be beautiful.  And often is.

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It takes more than love.  It takes education, exercise, respect, a humane outlook, good food, a shared sense of play, time spent together and yes, love, the deep abiding forever kind.

Dog training, you can see it emerge on the first lesson, when the leaping, pulling maniac gets that light in his eyes, Ah, I get it, and his breathing changes and his life changes and the beginning of beautiful has arrived.

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