Opinion — For the love of dogs


Andie Balenger/NW

COMPANIONS — Beta, left, and Boone, right, pose for a quick picture. Growing up with a dog in the family meant that you always had a friend. Whether it be going for walks or relaxing on the couch, dogs seem to find joy in accompanying us through any endeavor that life has to offer us.

Andie Balenger, Opinion Editor

During a particularly long day on campus this past week, a classmate and I made our way to the Student Support Services office to complete an assignment for our news writing course. While I had been to the office before, particularly for advisor meetings and to collect school supplies, it was not until this visit that I met the office’s furry friend: Welles, a black Labrador. 

Upon first glance, I immediately went to greet Welles, unable to stop my subconscious urge to scratch behind his ears and remind him that he is a good boy. He lay comfortably on the office floor, sporting his blue service dog vest as his tail wagged in response to my approach. I mirrored his excitement, plopping down on the carpet next to him as my classmate began our assignment.

As Welles and I sat together, I could not help but be reminded of my two dogs, Beta, a Golden Retriever, and Boone, an English Retriever. While I only live an hour from my hometown, which allows me to see my pups quite often, any amount of time spent without them is still challenging.

Considering that I have grown accustomed to being greeted at the front door by Beta and Boone, usually with a toy or my left tennis shoe as a “Welcome Home!” gift, the return to my quiet apartment in Marquette has been a bit lonely.

Growing up, my family always had a dog. In fact, one of my earliest childhood memories is going to pick up my childhood dog, Breezer, from a nearby town. While I was only four years old at the time, I vividly recall cradling her in my lap on our way home — my brother jealously accusing me of choking her to death as he sat next to me. 

Our dogs have always been considered members of the family, so much so that they seem to take on human-like qualities. They sleep in our beds, snack on human food and even have their own stockings during the Christmas holiday. Whatever free time my family finds in the day we devote to the dogs, whether it be taking them for a dip in Little Bay de Noc or going on walks around the neighborhood block. 

The summer going into my sophomore year of high school I was surprised with Beta after my night shift at a local ice cream shop. Considering that I had begged my mom for months to get me a dog, Beta was deemed as mine to train and take care of. Despite the trials and tribulations that come with raising a puppy, including scratches, midnight “potty breaks” and plenty of carpet cleaner, Beta and I now have a bond like no other. 

She is my best friend. 

Throughout high school, Beta and I were basically inseparable. Whether it be a drive around town or an event with friends, Beta was more than likely with me. When it came time to vacation, the trip was planned around having a dog with me. That meant no national park adventures, no shopping and any restaurant that we chose had to have outdoor dining or a takeout option.

But none of that mattered to me. It felt unfair to leave Beta behind as I spent my vacation time outdoors. I wanted my best pal to experience it all with me. 

Whenever I return home from college, the first thing I always see is her head popping up in the living room window. It stays there for just a second, quickly disappearing as she races me to the front door. Her head always bows as she approaches me, her hind end swaying back and forth as she greets me with a friendly growl. As I settle in, she will join me on whatever piece of furniture I decide to sit on — even if it means jumping directly onto my lap.

Blame it on COVID-19 or my heading off to college, but my family decided to get another dog in 2020. Boone, the most recent addition to our family, is the first male dog we have owned. Acting as Beta’s favorite chew toy and my favorite source of entertainment, Boone is the most hilarious dog I have ever met. To name just a few of his unique quirks, he likes to push Beta out of the way in an attempt to steal any attention, he has an aversion to flying insects and he likes to sneeze directly in your face to show his excitement.

And he is always excited.

No matter if I am at my best or my worst, my dogs could seemingly not care less. As long as they are by my side, they seem to be satisfied. Days spent in bed have always been accompanied by a furry friend, the two of them exhibiting just as much excitement as if we were playing fetch outside. The great thing about dogs is that as long as they are with someone they consider a companion, they are at peace. 

I do not know what we did to deserve dogs. 

I continued to think about my dogs as Welles fulfilled his duties at the Student Support Services office, which he is undoubtedly very good at. I had walked into the office that day feeling quite overwhelmed, with deadlines and work schedules doing circles in my mind. Thanks to Welles, however, I left with a smile on my face.

Editor’s Note: The North Wind is committed to offering a free and open public forum of ideas, publishing a wide range of viewpoints to accurately represent the NMU student body. This is a staff column, written by an employee of the North Wind. As such, it expresses the personal opinions of the individual writer, and does not necessarily reflect the position of the North Wind Editorial Board.