The World According to Rico – Everybody needs a dad

Puppies need a few things – food, shelter and affection. That’s it.

And while I don’t know a lot of people, I’m assuming that’s all humans really need too.

But to get those requirements, you need someone to provide it for you when you are young . . . if you’re a dog, well, it’s forever.

I was so lucky when my dad walked in the door. He’d already seen me on this thing called the internet and decided it was time to make a long journey to find me.

That morning, I was scared as the dickens because I’d never met other humans from the outside world, just the few in my little bubble. When he entered the room, I heard his distinctive deep voice. I liked the sound of it, but because I was just a little guy, I hid under a desk.

I could see his shoes and I thought I smelled the scent of food – little did I know he’s a caterer by trade. That was a plus.

The lady who was handling my transition kept saying I was under the desk and I could see the folks’ hands reaching underneath, but I hid. I’m not sure why. I think I was just scared of the unknown.

Then, I felt his weathered fingers reach out to me and touch my little paws. I went ahead and let him grab my little 4-pound body. How bad could he be, I thought. Let’s just give it a go, plus I was getting tired of hiding under a desk.

He scooped me up and held me close. I just nuzzled my little head into his chest and he lightly stroked my baby hair.

Of course, I could hear Mom’s voice because she can’t help but talk. But Dad didn’t say anything because he didn’t have to. He just held me until I stopped shaking. I opened my eyes and looked at him. He had a nice enough face and his eyes were locked into mine.

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you, we will take care of you,” he told me.

The next thing I knew, I was in a car with the two of them, nestled in my mom’s lap while he drove. He kept saying things like, “The sun’s too bright, he’s too hot.” Yes, it was very hot that day, but he turned the air conditioning on high because my fur coat is quite something. “I think my hands are frozen,” he laughed while we drove and drove and drove and I eventually napped because I was comfortably cool and supremely coddled.

I remember him carrying me into a pet store and pretty much start buying all sorts of things he thought I’d need. I guess they were starting from scratch because it had been many years since my great-uncle Bono had lived there. By that point, I was pretty sure they liked me and they’d probably give me more than enough to ensure my survival.

I’ve been here, in his house, since last June. I’m eight months old and six of those months have been spent with him and my mama. And boy, has my dad delivered.

Early every morning, he lifts me up into their bed so we can spend a few calm minutes in the dark before I go bonkers with energy. He makes me breakfast every day, which includes an egg, chicken and other special ingredients. He makes sure to have plenty of real food on hand all the time so Mom can keep feeding me all day long.

He walks me before he goes to work. He give me rides when I’m willing to venture out. The best time of day is when one of his white catering vehicles pull up outside the house and I know I have him for at least eight hours.

When he’s home, boy he’s home. We run, we wrestle, he gives me baths and he brushes my thick hair every single night (because that’s a Keeshond requirement, it just is). He can carry me around like nobody’s business, even though I’ve gotten a lot bigger (and doesn’t struggle like my little mama). Every night before bed, we sit on the couch and eat ice cream — the attention and treat are both delicious. He’s strong and I can count on him.

He loves dog toys so that’s a good thing for me. I have too many, but don’t tell him. We’ll just let him believe the influx has to continue.

I realize having a puppy kid is a completely different thing from raising an actual human, so I don’t need any judgment there. I understand the two are not even remotely related and raising an actual human is a way bigger deal. But that said, having a puppy/dog/animal/pet is still a lifelong commitment – whether it’s their lifetime or mine. I wish more people knew that.

All of this leads to one thing I’ve realized as the new year has begun. Everyone deserves a dad and everyone needs a dad.

Sure, I screw up and pee on the floor and chew on his shoes and bark in the middle of the night for no reason and throw up by the toilet and steal socks and hide underwear and chase the chickens and bite when I’m teething. I know I try to keep him awake when he desperately wants to sleep and I leave all kinds of debris behind when I ride in the vehicles. I know I’ve created stress with my earlier health problems and I appreciate the fact he pushed forward with alternative methods when modern medicine said I was probably a lost cause. I know I’m timid and get freaked out, but he’s patient with my downfalls.

And in turn, I realize he doesn’t have all day to spend with me because he has businesses to run. I know he might have to be stern with me when I screw up because that’s how I learn. But I always know he loves me when he’s here and I know he’ll always come back for me because that’s what dads do.

All of this is pretty sappy, but it’s just the truth.

Everybody needs a dad and I’m just thankful I have one. Not everyone is so fortunate.

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