With Affection, Aida

They go for a walk three or four times a day and when Aida, 11, was younger, they practised Agility on a regular basis. This is how Paolo and his Flat Coated Retriever became closest friends. It took a bit before the initial sparkle turned into love though. The beginning was quite… unusual

Was it love at first sight, when you met Aida?
Well, not quite. My wife and I had decided to get a dog to fill the void that our two grownup children were leaving. It was our first experience, we did not know the differences between the various breeds and therefore we contacted a friend, Enrico, who a few years earlier had initiated the kennel “Legend of Crudy”, just outside Milan. I remember that the first impression we had was not exactly positive. We were in fact surrounded by 7 or 8 flat coated adults who simply wanted to get to know us and be caressed. Not knowing the affectionate nature of this breed we felt a certain unease, partly even fear, due to the presence of two adult males. Enrico explained the behavior of the breed and assured us that no one would bite but that everyone would lick us endlessly. We ended up deciding that in a few months time we would have taken the biggest female of the next litter. So when Aida was born together with 11 other little brothers, we received a call and I remember that Enrico put two girls in my arms. Both were hyperkinetic and wriggling like crazy, but Aida, I remember well, was the one who was looking at me intensely, curiously holding my gaze. It was at that moment that I realized Aida would be ours.

Why is Aida amazing?
Aida is very meek and obedient, but what characterizes her the most is that she is always looking for cuddles and not just from me. Generally when we cross other dogs’ ways, she’s interested not so much in her fellow dogs but their humans, immediately demanding their attention. At the same time she is sensitive enough to understand people who don’t like dogs or are afraid. She’d just ignore them to make them feel at ease.

How would you describe your relationship?
For me Aida is much more than just a dog, she is like a daughter. She is the living being with whom I have spent most of my time in recent years. We are always together, go out at least 4 times a day, we take long walks and I take her with me wherever I go – as long as there is the possibility to bring a dog.

Is she were a person – who would she be?
She would probably be my best friend! We have an empathetic relationship and support each other when we are tired or depressed.

Why do you love her?
I think I love her because that spark that immediately ignited between us at first glance was confirmed and transformed into love following all the activities we did together: I was her conductor in behavioral education courses and, later on, of agility. When we were both younger we went out running for several kilometers and she always remained by my side. I’m the one she always turns to when she is unwell or just needs to do her business. I’m her pack leader, she can’t be without me and I miss something when I don’t see her.

What did she teach you that nobody else would?
Aida shows me that a dog can be a man’s best friend, because it makes you feel its affection without being invasive and follows you without asking where or why.

Is there anything that annoys you about her?
Aida is very affectionate and shows her affection by licking your hand, legs and face. It is a very typical behavior of the flat coated Retriever and Aida is no different. This continuous being licked is not always pleasant, but I gladly accept it knowing that it is his way of saying “I love you dad”.

What are your favourite things to do with her?
Today we enjoy walking together. But until a couple of years ago agility was our favourite thing. When I realized that it was getting too exhausting for her we stopped.

Is your dog part of the family 100 %?
Aida is a member of the family to all intents and purposes and I almost consider her a daughter. She lives in the apartment with us and sleeps in our room. However, we taught her not to get on the sofa and even less get into our bed. I think she’s a little sorry, but for my wife and me it’s much better this way.

Any advice you would like to give to someone who wants to get a dog but can’t decide?
Living with a dog is a wonderful experience and I can only recommend it to everyone.