What Having A Dog Teaches You About Love

Having Dogs Has Taught Me SO Much About Love

I may love my dogs a little too much, but without them teaching me how to love I would not be the compassionate, loving person I am today.

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I will be the first to admit that I am a crazy dog lady. I spoil my three pups and constantly look at Instagram accounts about dogs or cute Facebook memes about the precious animals. For some people, my love for animals, especially dogs, is excessive and unreasonable, but my puppies really taught me how to be a loving person.

For my 18th birthday, I was able to adopt my sweet Turner.

He was only eight-weeks-old when we got him and all we knew is that he was some sort of chihuahua mix and that I fell in love with him instantly. From the moment I held him the first time, we had an odd connection like he understood everything I was saying completely —and let me tell you that made training him pretty easy.

We are now to the point that I can tell Turner to go to my room to get ready for bed and he immediately runs upstairs and curls himself up under the sheets waiting to sleep on top of my feet. We have this strange connection and it comes from a place of pure love.

Turner is the first dog that is completely mine — as opposed to a family dog — and because of that, he was already so special to me.

Even though he was incredibly special he was still difficult to train, as are most puppies. Having to wake up at 4:00 a.m. every day to him yelping because he was afraid of a crate taught me how to love patiently, even when I am tired and cranky.

Having to constantly clean up his messes because he learned how to destroy stuffed toys from a young age, taught me that even though times can be frustrating that does not mean the love you feel lessens in any way. He really showed me how to love patiently even at times I really did not want to.

Now my most recent adoption is an entirely different story.

My family adopted Romeo when he was two-and-a-half-months old believing he would grow to be a pretty small dog around 20 pounds. But now at the age of eight-months-old, he is almost double that.

Having a big dog teaches you so much. I also left the country for almost two months and three weeks after we rescued sweet Romeo, and having to watch him grow up from miles away was so difficult! However, this experience taught me that love is not something that comes just when you are with a soul every single day.

My puppy barely knew me when I left, but as soon as I walked through the door home he ran into my arms like I had been there every second and I knew he was still the loving puppy I had left at home.

These two dogs taught me so much about how to love in a way that is patient, adaptive and unceasing. Dogs are a huge part of a person's life and knowing I am going to have two fluffy, cuddle-filled best friends for a long time and I can bet that each and every day will bring a new lesson of love that every dog parent will come to learn.

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Top 10 Cutest Cat Breeds

These cat breeds are super cute and underrated.
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It seems that the only breeds anyone can actually recognize are those of dogs, cats really don't get enough recognition. There is just as much of a variety of cat breeds as there are of dog breeds, almost anyway, and they deserve love and recognition as well. So, here are the top 10 cat breeds I've deemed as the absolute cutest!

1. Exotic Persian

Exotic Persian cats are one of the cutest breeds in my opinion. Theses are the squished faced cats. The cats that perpetually look grumpy and disappointed. They're also super high-maintenance and believe you're supposed to cater to their every whim. Which, to be fair, you are.

2. Scottish Fold

Scootish Folds are super adorable because they're very unique. They're ears fold over, making them always appear to be begging you for something. They also always look a little bit sad, which, of course, only makes you love them more.

3. Himalayan

Himalayan cats are just magnificent and so prestigious. These cats are fluffy, deserve the best, and expect nothing but the best.

4. British Shorthair

I'm not sure what it is about these cats that makes them so adorable, but my roommate has tried to describe them as "fat and sassy." - Delaney Pulice. She's not wrong. They're pretty chubby and look like they're just a little bit too good for you. In all honesty, what cat isn't too good for us?

5. Maine Coon

These cats are particularly wonderful because they can be giant. I mean, giant. These cats can grown into the sizes of large dogs, which, of course, if everything we could all ever ask for in a cat. Who wouldn't want a giant cat that could probably double as a pillow?

6. Persian

These cats are only a little bit different from Exotic Persians, but there's a difference. Persians tend to have less squished face than Exotics, but every cat is different. The one above is a Silver Persian. He had to eat his food off of a plate because his flat face couldn't fit in a cat food bowl.

7. Munchkin

These tiny little guys never really grow much. Their legs are perpetually short and stubby, making them the ideal cats, because, if you had a choice, wouldn't you want your cat to be either giant like a Maine Coon or tiny like a Munchkin cat? Of course you would.

8. Siberian

These cats are just generally beautiful. They have long, shiny, fluffy coats and are just pretty cats. Plus, they look super cuddly, like they might purr for hours if you brushed them.

9. British Longhair

Another just simply beautiful cat. When you see those posts online that say "This cat is prettier than I am," yeah, that's these cats. They have long, soft coats as well that they like to keep clean. And as all cats do, they look like they're just a little bit above us and we have to cater to them.

10. Ragdoll

Finally, we have Ragdoll cats. These cats look a bit like fluffier Siamese cats. Which, let's face it, Siamese cats aren't necessarily the cutest. However, if you just add a lot of fluff, because the fluffier the better, they become much cuter.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Branch

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To My Rescue Dog, Thank You For Teaching Me A Lesson In Unconditional Love And Strength

Your perseverance taught me I can get through anything with love.

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To my rescue dog Xena,

When I first heard of you, I had no idea you were going to pop into my life. I fought long and hard to get Mom and Dad to let me have your brother, Bolt, and after five years of having him, I did not expect them to want to welcome in another furry friend. I hardly expected them to want to do so as a major hurricane that had just destroyed Puerto Rico barreled its way here, but they did.

Mom called me and told me you existed as I was about to come home. Here, I thought classes finally being canceled was going to be the best news I got all day. She sent me a picture of you in your crate and I did not even have to hear the rest. I knew I wanted to have you. Even if I had to force Bolt to learn to share and be nice, I knew you were mine.

Mom knew too and, after asking me if I was sure I wanted you—can you believe she had to ask?—we set off to bring you home. Bags packed, I met you an hour from home at some shady restaurant in the middle of Melrose. You were tinier than I expected and far skinnier than Bolt, but you wagged your tail at me and even jumped up to give me a kiss without any hesitation, and I fell for you.

I had no idea what you had been through leading up to that moment. They told us you were rescued from Hurricane Harvey only two weeks before, but that was all I knew. I had no clue your foster home had been flooded and that you were forced to float on a couch cushion to stay alive. I had no idea that you were covered in mud when they found you. All I knew when I got to hold you for the first time was that you were a very sweet girl who immediately showed me love.

What the wonders of unconditional love can show you.

You should have seen all of our faces when you first met Bolt. You were too busy sniffing him and already showing him you were the alpha dog to notice, but we were smitten by you. I felt my heart grow full knowing you were getting along with him. I felt utter joy knowing you were allowing us to give you a permanent home.

I was worried though about our future. About your future. We were not in the direct path of Hurricane Irma at the time, but I knew Irma was coming, and I was scared of how you would react. I saw you begin to tremble as it started to rain, and I noticed you begin to follow us around more skittishly than before. You probably thought Bolt was dumb for lounging around like normal. You also probably thought we were ridiculous for trying to get you to go out before things got bad.

That night when things did get bad, I will never forget the lesson you taught me. As I sat in bed, I watched as the path of Irma changed and put us right in the middle of a Category 2 storm and became afraid. I heard the wind start to pick up and I saw the lights flicker and soon go out, and I was terrified. This was the worst storm I was ever going to face. Even as an adult, I felt like crying.

But, then I looked at you. I saw you curled at my side, licking my arm, pawing at me to keep petting you, and I realized something. If a little dog like you could weather a massive hurricane like Harvey, I could get through this storm, too. Even though the wind sounded like a freight train and some trees in our neighborhood fell, you gave me the courage to get through it, Xena. You showed that you can weather any storm and find the happy ending after it if you just keep your strength and march on.

You also showed me, through completely trusting me to keep you safe during Irma, the power of unconditional love. You had known me for only twenty-four hours at the time, and you had just survived probably the scariest event of your life, yet you believed I would not let anything hurt you. You loved me. You blindly trusted I would protect you even when nature did its worst, and I will never forget that.

Bolt (tan) and Xena (black and tan) the day after Hurricane Irma hit Florida. Photo Credit: Laurel Swiderski

I remember it every time I see you now, whether it is at home bothering Bolt or in the picture frame on my apartment desk. You had the strength and love inside you to weather two storms no dog should have to endure alone and came out just fine. If you can do it, my warrior princess of hurricanes, so can I.

So can we all.

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