Veterans love their dogs. Whether you’re a former military handler, a person that relies on your dog for emotional support, an adventurer in need of a wingman, or just the sort of person that likes company while you binge Netflix series — a dog offers a kind of companionship that feels familiar for military personnel: loyal, protective, fun, and occasionally, a big pain in the ass.

Perhaps that’s why it’s no surprise to see a burly, tatted up veteran get all mushy with his German Shepard in between concise commands and precision maneuvers that might make you think the dog is on the job. Many vets treat their dogs as teammates: with a combination of affection and expectation that denotes a peer like respect. What looks at first glance like a man and his dog, soon starts to seem like a dog and his man. They work together, they converse, they meet challenges as a team and when all is said and done, they’ve got each other to celebrate with.

That’s not the relationship I have with my dog.

While other vets practice clearing their house with their dogs, my chihuahua-dachshund and I watch old episodes of the X-Files. While other vets cruise through grocery stores and the like with their well behaved pups, I make sure everything has been picked up off the floor before I go to bed because my dog LOVES to pee on plastic for some strange reason.

While other vets and their dogs defend their homes as a team, when my family had a break in eight years ago, I found our family pooches (our Shih Tzu has since passed away) hiding under the blankets in the bedroom when I returned from chasing the culprit down the street.

Basically how they handled a home invasion.

My dog can’t be trusted around stranger’s kids because he’s a 12 year old chihuahua that bites at the wind blowing when he’s nervous. He can’t be let loose to run around the yard without supervision or he’ll head straight to my neighbor’s house to scarf down the poor guy’s cat’s food. He can’t be reasoned with, he shrugs off training, he smells bad right after a bath and his old hips don’t work like they used to, so he needs to be picked up from time to time.

Oh, but when you pick him up, he growls, because he hates being picked up.

He’s smaller than my cat, but with more attitude than all three humans in my house combined. If I’m being totally honest… my dog is a dick. And that’s why we’re such good friends. He treats my daughter like she’s a fragile piece of porcelain, and despite his stature, he’ll go after my old barn cat if he thinks she’s getting a little too close to dad’s baby girl. He knows where my spot is on the couch, and he sets up shop right next to it when I wrap up work for the day, ready to kick off another rowdy evening of research and reruns (the sexy life of a writer).