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Man’s Best (Secret) Friend

By Gracie Miller, October 2020, Updated June 2021
dog in a bicycle carrierlo

Every dog has their person. A dog may find comfort with everyone in a household, but there is always one special person they’ll gravitate toward. When my family welcomed Artie, our precious Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy, eight years ago, we had hoped that his special person would be my little brother. But this was not the case. Instead, Artie decided to cling to my father, and over time, his grip has only tightened, much to my father’s dismay.

My dad is basically the human incarnation of Donkey Kong. He’s kind of a supervillain—not that he’s an awful person, but he’s got this aura around him that screams “don’t mess with me.” By day, he’s a judge, and by night, he goes to his jiu jitsu class and fights other men. He’s a macho guy. He’s Vegeta from Dragon Ball. He can be intimidating if you don’t know him (sometimes, he’s even intimidating if you do know him).

The guy loves animals, but a cute little dog with a heart pattern on his forehead doesn’t quite match his aesthetic. One of our other dogs, an intelligent, masculine Standard Poodle, abandoned Dad’s side once Artie came around; the Poodle clearly found Artie annoying and immature. To be honest, he still is, and my dad will tell you he gets on his nerves.

Keyword: tell. He doesn’t necessarily show that.


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And yet, there’s this funny-looking dog following his every move.

He’ll tell you he doesn’t want Artie to follow him. He’ll tell you that his loud snoring, his loud breathing and his clinginess gets on his nerves. What he will show you, however, is that Artie is his baby boy.

My dad is really into riding his recumbent bicycle. He likes to add new parts to his bike, and a couple of years ago, he added something very special to the back: a little red baby carriage. No one in our family was younger than fifteen at that point, so to an outsider, that was a really weird purchase. However, it wasn’t for a human; it was for Artie.

After work, my extremely introverted dad likes to have private time where nobody can bother him. You’d think he’d want Artie to stay home while he enjoys the rest of his day, right? Wrong! When the weather’s nice, Artie goes with him every time he rides his bike. What’s more, my dad will photograph him, or ask my mom to take a video.

For a while, we weren’t really sure why Artie liked my dad so much. After all, he’s not a very affectionate guy. Artie is, and you’d think he would gravitate toward someone who would return his affections. Unfortunately, I’m living proof that this is not true. My mom has hypothesized that he’s obsessed with my dad because he wants validation from him.

I believe it’s because he’s the alpha male of the house.

When we introduced Artie to our family, my brother was about nine. Artie was bound to consider him as a litter mate, not his protector. And Artie has been deaf since birth, so seeing that my dad is strong, brave and clearly in charge probably gave him all the incentive he needed to become his second-in-command. Plus, nobody hands out treats like my dad.

The man complains to us all the time that we aren’t doing enough for Artie. He wants us to do for him exactly what he does, because he thinks that’s normal. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of anyone else getting up early in the morning to bake chicken breasts for their dog before they go to work.

Artie’s a little chunky—our veterinarian has actually said that Artie is a bit of a porker—but that doesn’t stop my dad from feeding the dude better than he feeds himself. Every night before bed, he grabs three or four dog treats and drops them on the bedroom floor. Artie fits all of them in his mouth and then eats them up on the bed, much to my mother’s dismay. It’s insane.

Dad says all the time that he’s looking forward to a dog-free house, but I’m not so sure. I think it’ll be a shocking adjustment for him. Artie follows his every move, and has for the past eight years. When he isn’t home, Artie spends his time looking out the window so he can see his car. My dad would never admit how much he likes Artie because it’d ruin his persona, but I think their bond is strong enough to power anything.



Gracie Miller is currently a University of Illinois senior graduating with a degree in English and a passion for animals. Having been raised alongside three wonderful dogs, she views canine companionship as a necessity, and treasures those familial relationships