Photo by Tyler Meuter

Back home in South Carolina, you’ll find my two seven-year-old golden retrievers, Captain and Lilly, either on my front porch sleeping or running around in the yard chasing each other.

Captain, the brother of the family, is a pretty big dog. When he’s not inside sleeping or lounging around, he’s outside playing with Lilly, or swimming in the pool or chasing another animal (one of our cats or otherwise). Whenever I come home over breaks, he sees me get out of my car and immediately runs down to greet me. In the most affectionate way possible, he puts his mouth around my arm until I rub his head, then he lets go and pants happily. He’s also gotten into the habit of sleeping in my bed when I’m home since he misses me so much. He either curls up next to me or down by my feet. Either way, his presence is always noticed.

Lilly, the sister of the family, is much smaller — about half the size of Captain — but not lacking in personality. Most of the time, she’s not too hyper; she’s just a happy bundle of joy that wants nothing more than to have you pet her. She’s perfectly content with simply relaxing and
looking adorable.

Like Captain, she also has a special way of showing her excitement. When I get home, she joins Captain outside and instead of barking, she makes this … noise. The closest thing I can relate it to is Chewbacca in Star Wars. It’s a cross between a growl and a roar. That’s just her special way of saying hello.

Both of the dogs are also persistent. They usually wake my dad at around 5:00 a.m. each morning to go out to walk. He usually wakes up on his own, but they have devised a plan in case he doesn’t. My dad wears the same pair of shoes when he takes them out, and puts them in the same place each time. The dogs have figured this out. If he’s feeling sleepy and rolls over, Lilly will jump on the bed and paw him until he wakes up. Meanwhile, Captain goes to his closet, grabs the shoes and brings them to him. At that point, he has no choice but to take them to walk, or face further affection by petting and growling until he submits to their desires.

Captain and Lilly, both in their own special way, convey many important life lessons. First, hard work pays off. By being persistent they take the needed action and get their desired outcome. Some things take time, but by sticking with it they get rewarded in the end — whether it’s a walk, a dog treat,or a promotion at work.

They also exemplify that it’s okay to be different. Not every dog is going to bark in the same way. Not everyone has the same interests, likes the same foods or chases the same mailman. Lilly shows her affection by channeling her inner Chewbacca, and that’s perfectly fine. Does that make her different? Absolutely — but that’s just Lilly and her unique personality. We all need a bit of the unconventional in our lives.