My family bought our first dog, Toby, when I was eight years old. He was a very hyper chocolate lab that was constantly looking to get the attention of anyone he could. One of his favorite activities was using his “tug-of-war” chew toy to get our family to play with him. I always loved using this toy because we would each grab one end of the rope and both start tugging. It got me more involved with playing with him than if we were playing fetch. Playing tug-of-war was also easier to play with a newborn puppy who had not learned to play fetch. It also benefitted me because I could not throw very far at such a young age. Weather was also no longer a factor, we could play it almost anywhere in the house as long as there was enough room for it. There was an immediacy factor to it that other games we played did not have.
I can recall one time in particular in which we were playing outside. We played tug-of-war on the deck, which was not far off the ground. Toby pulled on the rope so hard that he fell off the deck! I jumped down towards him to see if he was alright and he proceeded to run after me to keep playing. The memories that I have with my dog stand out tremendously from other memories that I have from growing up. Had I grown up without a dog to keep me company, my childhood would not have been nearly as great or entertaining. My chocolate lab is no longer with us unfortunately, but I will never forget the time we spent together.
By Eric Belcastro
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