Prince didn't start out as Troy Dye's dog, but the pit bull-Lab mix and Vikings linebacker are practically inseparable.
In college at Oregon, Dye roomed with Ducks teammate and former Vikings receiver Dillon Mitchell, who owned Prince. Minnesota drafted Mitchell in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and he asked Dye to watch Prince while he settled in a new home.
"So Prince stayed with me in the apartment, and we just grew a bond over the next couple of months," Dye said.
" 'Sorry, there's no way you're about to get this dog back. He's mine for good now,' " Dye told his friend. 'Dillon was OK with it because he knew Prince was in a great home, great spot, and he gets all the love and attention."
Prince certainly gets plenty of affection from Dye, his girlfriend Makenzie and the couple's son, Ty, who was born on April 7.
An expanding family initially threw Prince for a loop, but he quickly warmed to the infant and assumed the protective "big brother" role.
"When Ty first came home … any little movement or sound that Ty would make, [Prince's] ears popped up, on-guard, ready to go, wasn't really sure what this little human was," Dye recalled earlier this year. "When the baby would cry, Prince would look at you like, 'What's going on? Are you going to do something?'
"Now he kind of gets the feel of the baby and understands certain cries. It'll be like 3 in the morning, and the baby will be crying, and here comes Prince to just sit next to you, give you some comfort and let you know it's all good," Dye continued.
Ty and Prince have been known to nap together, and Dye looks forward to the two becoming best friends.
The growing relationship isn't surprising to Dye, who described Prince as an incredibly loving dog.
"If a person comes over … you won't be able to get him off you," Dye laughed. "He'll try to jump in your face, sit on you like he's a 10-pound dog, but he's really 50 pounds. It's like, 'OK, my guy, you can't be on the couch with me; you're a little too big for that.' "
Dye and Makenzie have prided themselves on teaching Prince a series of tricks, including "giving paws" or high-fives and rolling over.
"The rolling over was probably our biggest accomplishment," Dye said. "It was complicated at first, but he got it. It's been fun ever since. If you come out with a bone, he just goes straight to rolling over – you don't even have to tell him."
There's one thing that Prince hasn't been taught but is absolutely known for: licking.
"That's his go-to thing. If he sees you in the house and there's any open skin, prepare to get licked," Dye said. "Kisses in bundles, man – he just loves to give them out.
"I'm not opposed to it, though. I'd rather have a super nice dog than an aggressive dog," he added. "And he loves playing with other animals. He goes to the dog park and is very friendly with other animals and with humans. It's been a blessing to have a dog like that."
Dye has always been an animal lover, having grown up with a variety of pets. From horses, to cats and dogs, and even fish and turtles, the California native loves them all.
One animal he's never owned?
"I'm not a snake person. I don't like the way they move. I don't like the way they operate," Dye quipped.
"But I'm a big animal person. I love to be around them – I love the compassion and the care that they can give," he said. "It's a two-way street. Respect is earned and respect is given when it comes to animals, and I think that's the biggest thing for me. If you love an animal the right way, they'll love you back. It's always awesome to have a partner and a best friend that's not human."