There are times when I'm deliberately mean to Cooper and I tease him with treats and his toys. Sometimes I poke him when he's asleep and try to discreetly trim his nails. But all in all, I really love that stupid, stinky dog and I make sure he knows it.
He might not understand words. It's all noise to him but everyday I tell him that I love him, I tell him that he's beautiful or handsome depending on the day, and I tell him that I know he tries and I appreciate him.
And maybe it has something to do with the fact that I grew up and struggle with extreme low self-esteem that I have to make sure he feels validated because I don't get enough of that myself. I know how it feels to be underappreciated or feel like I don't matter and that's something I never want Cooper to feel.
Hopefully he gets that.