When I was little, my friend had two tiny teacup poodles. I remember thinking they looked too small to be alive. They danced around like marionettes, and I was horribly afraid I would accidentally step on one or sit on one by accident and snap it.
My husband and I have always favoured big dogs -- shepherd/lab mixes, most often. Dogs you weren't ashamed to walk down the street. Dogs that looked like they meant it when they barked at strangers in the yard. Dogs you could throw your arms around and really hug.
However, these dogs also really shed. For the year after our last shepherd/lab died, we were amazed to find we hardly had to dust our house. But a dogless house isn't a happy one, so we eventually got another, and this time (we told ourselves) we would get one that didn't shed.
So we got the shih tzu, so small he could hardly get his mouth around the kibble. He was so little that when he went to take a drink, his oversized head outweighed the rest of his body, and his back legs would rise from the floor. A few times he ended up face-first in his water dish. The old fear resurfaced, and I learned to glide around the kitchen without lifting my feet, for fear of stepping on him. He never shed a hair, and for seven years I hardly had to dust.
But sweet as he was, he was an indoor dog, fussy and delicate. Not a dog you could ramble along a river with. He had no interest in playing ball, and he didn't like to be touched very much. He preferred curling up on his blanket and ignoring humans completely. It was more like having a cat.
Enter Brio, the just-the-right-size dog. Not too big, so care is easy. Not too small, so I can hug and rough-and-tumble with him. He loves nothing more than chasing a ball or exploring a forest. Affectionate, devoted, and intelligent, he is the perfect dog. And he sheds like a snowstorm.
Ah well. The price you have to pay for friendship.