When you give a girl a dog;

She gets her best friend,

Someone who will always love her unconditionally and without fail,

Someone to talk to when she doesn't need a response, just comfort,

A warm pillow to cuddle with at night when things get tough or life is scary,

A protector,

A family member,

A lifetime of memories,

When you give a girl a dog, she gets a lifelong friend, that becomes her family. Growing up with dogs my whole life, I was never without a floppy-eared companion when I needed one. It started off with Labradors, then a Jack Russell, two beagles, hunting dogs, and finally the sweetest hound dog a girl could ask for.

I love all dogs, mutts, purebreds; I'm not biased to any kind of dog. Although I love me some golden retrievers and Newfoundlands, I am an active advocate to "adopt, don't shop." Dogs in shelters deserve just as much love as a dog that comes from a breeder. If you are searching for a specific breed, there are specific breed rescues all throughout the United States. I always try to support local animal shelters and brands that donate to help homeless dogs, like Puppie Love or PAWZ. If I could open my own shelter and help every stray animal I come across, I would. After I finish college, I want to become a foster parent for dogs, and always have my home filled with endless amounts of love, fur, and slobber.

As summertime approaches, one thing is present in my mind; Puppies and dogs. Summer and spring are the times when lots of puppies are born, and lots of them end up in shelters. Dogs are lifelong companions and they become our family. However, what some people fail to realize is, a dog is for life. You can't abandon them when they aren't a puppy anymore. This is how so many animals end up in shelters and rescues. This summer, I ask if you are planning on getting someone in your family a dog, look to shelters. Shelters always have puppies, young dogs, adult dogs, and senior dogs.

Shelter dogs are the best kind of dogs in my personal opinion. They have so much love to give, and some of them have very trying backstories. I understand the appeal that buying from a breeder gives, but sometimes I think, "why should I pay $1,500 for a dog when I can go to my local animal shelter, pay $75.00 and get a dog that is just as great or better?" Throughout my life, all I've had was Labrador Retrievers and Lab mixes; always bought from a breeder, and even when we got a beagle, we got him from a friend who breeds them.

The summer before my senior year of high school, I wanted another dog. We had just lost our beagle, Blitz, and my Lab Jessie seemed lonely without a friend. I begged (more like annoyed) my Dad from February to August, I even created a powerpoint that finally convinced him to let me have another dog. After I got his approval, I started looking at my local shelter in Dinwiddie, and the local SPCA in Richmond. It was hard. I'd find a dog I liked, but they just never jumped out at me. When I started my senior year, I was disappointed that I hadn't been able to find a dog.

However, all my disappointment disappeared when I was scrolling through Facebook and came across the picture of a white puppy at the local animal shelter. He was one of two, his sister had been adopted early that week, and he was left alone. He and his sister had been picked up on the side of Courthouse Road, without a sign of their mother. From the moment I saw his picture, I knew it was meant to be! I asked my Mom to take us by the animal shelter after school to meet him, and it was one of the best feelings ever. He was snow white, long lanky legs, big paws, and the prettiest brown eyes I had ever seen. I picked him up and he just snuggled right into me; at that moment I was hooked. I knew he'd be coming home with me.

We went home that day to tell my Dad, and the next day I adopted him after school. I named him Harry, anyone who knows me knows I LOVE Harry Styles (and Harry Potter). It's funny, his name didn't suit him at first, but now I couldn't imagine him being named anything else. Harry is hands down the best dog I have ever had. He has more personality than any dog I've met, and he never fails to make me smile, even when he's being annoying as hell. He's my best friend, and someone I can talk to when I just want to talk without having a response.

Harry has been a faithful friend for three years now, and sometimes I feel since he was a shelter dog, he just has so much more love to give since at the start of his life, he didn't have love. I love my crazy boy, and he loves me. I can't wait to be home with him for the summer and go on some adventures together. We take the most dysfunctional selfies together, he tries to steal my food, I try to tell him, no but I end up giving him a bit of what I'm eating anyway. He's a chicken nugget fiend just like his Mama. Harry is my best friend and I wouldn't trade him for anything in the whole world.

So this summer, if you are leaning towards getting a dog, go to your local shelters. There are so many loving dogs who need good homes this year.

Trust me, you won't regret adopting a new best friend.

"Whoever said diamonds are a girl's best friend..never owned a dog."