This post brought to you by Beneful. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Someday I'll Learn.

I remember when I was a kid, my grandma had a refrigerator magnet with that saying. “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” I didn't understand it at the time. I didn't grow up with dogs and – frankly – I think my grandma's pets all thought of me as competition.

Be the person your dog thinks you are.

I get it now, though.

Be the person... quote

Kraken has grown into a loving and protective and sometimes-slightly-goofy but always beautifully-poised canine. Initially, he glommed onto Nate as his person…as German Shepherds are known to do. This breed has a tendency to single out their human and protect that one human above all else. With a little training, we taught him that the children are also his priority. Eventually, an amazing thing happened: he started protecting the kids as well, guiding them and occasionally herding them out of danger's way. It's an incredible sight to see this graceful animal circling his flock of preschoolers and gently nudging them away from a perceived threat (I'll admit that the “threat” is usually one of our chickens or an unfamiliar toy, but he still gets an A for effort).

Be the person your dog thinks you are.

Kraken's usual place when Nate's at work is either plopped down by the front door or pacing along our fence line. He's always watching, always vigilant, always loyal. When I'm pregnant, though, there's a noticeable shift in his behavior. Suddenly he's by my side and at my feet non-stop. He pokes his nose into my belly and lays his floppy cheeks on my pant leg.

He knows that his family's growing.

I feel bad that I'm low on energy and my attention's spread thin. Soon, probably even thinner. His excited eyes are so trusting and happy. He thinks that I am the greatest person ever! So I try really, really hard to live up to at least a fraction of that. I want to give him the attention he deserves as the protector of our family. After all, too much work and no play isn't good for anyone. I preach this constantly, and I know that Kraken needs a break as much as I do.

Be the person your dog thinks you are.

When the boys are at school and it's just Kraken and I, we head outside for a little one-on-one time. Whenever I can, I take him to the dog park so he can play around with others like himself. Our second dog, Bjorne, has had some health issues that have limited his activity lately so it's more important than ever for Kraken to get a little socialization. He romps around and chases balls and I get fresh air, a much-needed reminder that this long and laborious pregnancy won't last forever and it won't be too long until Kraken has another little member of his herd.

This is what we work for, Kraken and I, our common goal. We both strive for a harmonious and safe family unit. We both find inspiration with our feet on the ground and our eyes looking out at nature.

Be the person your dog thinks you are.

Do you and your dog share a love of parks? Nearly 80% of dog owners agree that their local dog park provides a place for them to exercise and be healthy with their dogs. Beneful has launched its 2016 Beneful Dream Dog Park Project to help you unleash the joy. This annual effort helps improve and build dog parks across the country by providing financial and hands-on support. This year, they've created a GoFundMe program to encourage dog lovers to create campaigns for local dog parks to raise awareness and funds with the support of Beneful. You can join in by sharing a photo of your dog or a link to the Dream Dog Park Project website on your social channels and tagging @Beneful with hashtag #DreamDogPark. They'll put $1 towards the initiative (up to $50,000) for every share!

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