I have two young German Shepherds. I love them both, and they couldn’t be more dissimilar. Sometimes I wonder if their antipodal personalities are part of what make me the strange guy I think I am.


Amy Beth Baker is black and sleek. She is the protector of our property and she takes her job seriously. She does sentry duty around the perimeter of our land, nose high in the air, alert to any potential intruder. Her bark can sound menacing, her growl downright frightening. When guests come over, it’s wise for me to make an appropriate introduction so that Amy Beth knows they are welcome. At times, her demeanor can be a bit embarrassing but, on the other hand, when Amy is around me, I feel like the safest man on earth. Before I go to bed each night, I cup her angular face in my hand and touch my nose to her nose. It’s a special moment of the day for both of us.


Nigel Jay Wiggins is white, long and big-boned. He is always at play, and doesn’t know the meaning of the word “stranger.” Throw Nigel a frisbee and he’ll catch it in midair and rush it back to be thrown again and again and again. As a guard dog, Nigel fails miserably. He never barks and he was born with a tongue-lolling smile and a whimsical wink. I know Nigel loves me because he loves everybody. If there were a popularity contest involving every dog in the universe, Nigel would win, paws down.


Would I be better off having two dogs that behaved the same way? On one hand, it would be easier to manage my daily responsibilities. I wouldn’t have to worry about which one was greeting visitors at the front gate and which one was sniffing for bears and coyotes along the back fence.


On the other hand, how flat would my life be if I only surrounded myself with one personality type? I think the same thing applies to the people in my life. I’m so grateful for the people who push me, the people who protect me, the people who play with me and the people who love me unconditionally. They are as unalike as can be, and I ricochet among them, collecting the contrasting contributions of them all.


I’d love to explore this more, but right now Amy Beth is barking at some small disturbance she’s spotted in our perimeter. And Nigel’s right beside her, probably looking to make a new friend.


If I know what’s good for me, I’ll be sure to listen to them both for the rest of my life.