Man's best friend

It's not that I never liked dogs, it's that I never had one. When I was 13 years old, my friend had a really angry dog that was always locked up in his back yard. One day I was at his house playing a game with a group of kids and the dog got out. He attacked one of my friends and I saw everything. It was pretty traumatizing and since then I was never interested in having dogs.

I have two daughters and the older one has been asking me for a dog since she was four. On every birthday, every Christmas she'd beg, "Daddy, please can I have one!" but I'd always put her off. She's 14 now and was still just as desperate for a dog, so this time I decided to talk to my wife about it. My wife never had a dog either, but we agreed to try it out and see what happened.

I bought a golden retriever and everything changed.

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Her name is Mila and we are so in love with her. My wife and daughters are so happy to have her as a part of the family, but it doesn't even come close to the effect Mila has had on me. When I'm playing online, she knows exactly how I'm doing. If I'm running bad, she'll come over to my desk and lay her head on my leg to give me comfort. It's amazing how dogs can feel energy better than humans. And what they give to us, they give for free. Humans always expect something in return for kindness, but dogs don't expect anything. As long as you throw the tennis ball around and feed them, they'll give that wonderful energy right back to you. Having Mila in our life has been really special for my daughters. They love taking care of her and have learned to be respectful of animals. I look at them playing with Mila and I realize how much time I lost not having dogs in my life. So I'm trying to make up for it.

In the last year, I started doing research online about Golden Retrievers and decided to become a breeder here in Brazil. I thought it would be a good hobby for me as well as my first business venture that wouldn't really be about the money but more about pleasure. I have a huge house outside Sao Paulo where my 14-player poker team lives and works. There's plenty of space for dogs, so I decided to buy two or three more and see if it worked out. It turned out the players loved having the dogs around. Every day when they're playing online, the dogs come and visit them. It creates a really nice energy inside the room. The dogs have some kind of magic--they know to give comfort exactly when someone needs it.

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Now I have 12 Goldens living in the poker house and the competitive spirit is rubbing off on them. Every weekend we are taking the dogs to expo shows around Sao Paulo and they are winning bracelets! I honestly believe that all poker players should have a dog. They really help keep our minds calm when variance strikes. I mean, how could you go on tilt while looking at this face?

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Andre Akkari is a member of Team PokerStars Pro

Andre Akkari
@PokerStars in Andre Akkari