Mollie Hawkins
Updated Feb 10, 2015 @ 9:29 pm

Have you ever found yourself walking down the street, just minding your own business with your latte and your Spotify playlist, when it happens: a tiny dog with a Napoleon complex barks (or squeaks, rather) in your general direction, wishing you dead with its tiny ballpoint teeth. Annoying, isn’t it?

Well, I’m sorry to say that I own that dog. She barks, she charges cars while on her leash (a skinny leash; a leash that was actually made for cats, who are all bigger than my 5lb. dog), and she is pretty terrible to the general public. Her name is Sophie Bananas, and although she’s never bitten anyone—except a few ex boyfriends who totally deserved it—she is loud and proud about the sound of her own voice.

The thing is, my very high-maintenance, regularly disobedient dog has made me a better person. It’s complicated, but follow me here.

She made me more of a realist—and a patient one.

Sophie Bananas is eight years old now, and as I continuously research Cesar-Milan-esque boot camps in the Sacramento metropolitan area, I realize that at 28 years old, this is it: I’m never going to have kids, so this little grumpy Pomeranian is like my perpetual toddler, and I’m embarrassed that she’s having a tantrum in the middle of a fancy restaurant, only she’s a dog and it’s a coffee shop patio.

I’ve accepted the fact that my bad dog can’t go to nice places, and that’s OK, she’s happier living the hermit life. And hey, if it works for her, it works for me.

She introduced me to new friends.

Sophie likes to bark at people in the street. She’s being doing this for eight years, so that’s a lot of time to talk (and apologize) to strangers. Sometimes this small talk has led to friendships, which is pretty cool, because going up to strangers randomly on the street to chat them up is generally awkward unless there’s a fluffy dog as an icebreaker.

She taught me tolerance with other bad dogs.

When I see another Little Yappy Dog barking its little lungs out across the street, I can’t help but smile and share the all-empathizing and knowing nod to its owner. Sister/Brother, I feel your pain. Take a deep breath. We’re all in this together (except kind of not, because if our dogs crossed paths they’d probably want to tackle each other).

She made me question my life decisions.

They say that you should be the person your dog thinks you are. I am concerned about my dog’s outlook on my personality. I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m in need of constant protecting, which isn’t the case. And I would like to know how she plans to protect me with her 5 pounds, other than possibly barking the ears off a potential intruder.

However. I think that the fact that she functions that way is a constant reminder: be alert. Be home at a reasonable hour, because nothing good ever happens after 2am.

She made me appreciate flying on airplanes without her.

I used to get annoyed by flying. I take a lot of business trips these days, and tend to get grumpy with people when they do things like hog the armrest, cough without covering their mouths (come on; were you raised in a barn!?), and talk incessantly about their romance novels or jobs making false limbs (actually that guy was kind of interesting).

But none of it is worse than traveling with a crazy wriggling dog underneath your seat, who has no clue what’s going on, and who refuses to go pee during the two-second layover in Vegas.

Home is where my dog is.

I’ve moved around a lot in the past few years, but one thing remains constant: my coffee brewing equipment (hey—I need two French presses and a Chemex, thank you very much), and my dog. I can shift around my belongings/donate them to charity/acquire new things, but knowing my dog is waiting for me at the end of the day is pretty heartwarming. Plus, she’s fluffy.

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