Never Underestimate the Power of Dog

Never Underestimate the Power of Dog

The Lessons my dog taught me
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Anyone who knows me, even remotely, will tell you that I love dogs. I doubt that anyone other than my family and closest friends understand why I am quite so devoted to these creatures. The answer lies in the necklace that I always wear.

Ok, wait. This article has dog in it, but that is very clearly a wolf. Yes, I know. Wolves are my favorite wild animals and have been for a very long time. What matters more, is what is inside the necklace, ashes, of my beloved dog T.J.

Growing up, I was pretty lonely, until we got a dog. At first, I was scared of her, as she would run around the house like a maniac and steal my stuffed animals. After a while though, I realized that I had the closest thing that I would ever have to a sister.

Once junior high hit, I became more like the awkward potato that I am today. I struggled to fit in. T.J. was always there for me though, no matter what happened at school that day. Hell, she probably knew that I was gay long before I did. She didn't care though, because I was her person, and she was my sister.

As time went on, I began to struggle mentally more and more. Looking back, I know it was a culmination of some pretty intense stuff, but, at that time, it felt like the world was caving in around me.

It all became too much. At 15, I didn't want to live my life anymore. Something stopped me from taking it. I would be lying if I told you I knew exactly what it was. I remember sitting on the ground, sobbing, wondering how I would explain things to my parents. They loved me and I loved them and I didn't want them to blame themselves for something that I thought was all my fault. (At the time, I did not realize the role that brain chemistry plays in depression.)

T.J. came bounding around the corner, climbing into my lap, trying to kiss away the tears. This dog did not cuddle, but she knew. The look in her eyes was one I will never forget for the rest of my life. She loved me no matter what. The dogs at the shelter where I had been volunteering loved me no matter what others (or myself) thought was wrong with me.

Looking back now, as a stressed out college junior, I realize that my attachment to T.J. surpasses that of any owner-animal bond. She saved my life that day. She reminded me that, no matter how messy things got with humans, dogs would love me, as I had nothing but love for them. Somehow, (probably with help from dogs from the shelter) she got that message through my thick, stubborn skull and helped me start on a better path.

Whenever my depression rears it's ugly head, I remember the look in her eye on that day. I remember the look in the eyes of the shelter dogs when they realize that this awkward potato of a human is only here to rub their belly, and not hurt them.

My dedication to these creatures comes from the dedication that one had to me during my darkest moments. I can never thank T.J. enough for what she did. She probably is too busy snacking on anything and everything to care.

Instead, I hope to honor her and make her proud, by showing dogs the same compassion, dedication, and determination that she showed me. I think that one of the best lessons she ever taught me though, is to never EVER underestimate the power of dog.

Cover Image Credit: Karen Grant

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3 Reasons Why Step Dads Are Super Dads

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I often hear a lot of people complaining about their step-parents and wondering why they think that they have any authority over them. Although I know that everyone has different situations, I will be the first to admit that I am beyond blessed to have a step dad. Yep, I said it. My life wouldn't be the same that it is not without him in it. Let me tell you why I think step dads are the greatest things since sliced bread.

1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

SEE ALSO: The Thank You That Step-Parents Deserve

2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

3. He loved me as his own.

The big one, the one that may seem impossible to some step parents. My stepdad is not actually my stepdad, but rather my dad. I will never have enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man, which is why I am attempting to write this right now. It takes a special kind of human to love another as if they are their own. There had never been times where I didn't think that my dad wouldn't be there for me. It was like I always knew he would be. He introduces me as his daughter, and he is my dad. I wouldn't have it any other way. You were able to show me what family is.

So, dad... thanks. Thanks for being you. Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being strong. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for loving my mom. Thanks for giving me a wonderful little sister. Thanks for being someone that I can count on. Thanks for being my dad.

I love you!

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5 Amazing Plants To Decorate Your Dorm

A list of five beautiful and low-maintenance plants to bring your dorm room to life!

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Living in a dorm room can create a sense of constriction and drabness. In my opinion, nothing spices up your dorm room better than a little bit of nature. Not only does it bring the outdoors inside, it creates a view of freshness that will make you feel less cramped and more motivated. Here are some low-maintenance plants that will automatically make your room look more sophisticated and lively.

1. Parlor Palm

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The parlor palm is one of the best plants to have in a dorm room, specifically because it does not require much space to grow in, prefers low lighting, and only needs to be watered once a week, perfect for busy college students in small dorm rooms. In addition, the plant also functions as an air purifier.

2. Haworthia

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The haworthia, or the zebra cactus, is, in my opinion, one of the most attractive plants you can have in your dorm room. Since it is a succulent, it only needs to be watered once a week. Because of its small size, it makes the perfect desk decoration.

3. Pin Stripe Plant

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The Calathea ornata is one of my personal favorites. The contrast between the dark green leaves and the light pink stripes looks absolutely stunning and can instantly make your room look more sophisticated (even if you're a mess). It only requires watering once a week and does not need direct sunlight as long as the area it is in is bright.

4. Earth Star

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The Crypthanthus plant is an easy-maintenance addition to your dorm room. It is small enough to fit on your desk and needs indirect sunlight and weekly watering. The stripes running down the leaves, which are patterned in a star shape, make this low-lying plant an unforgettable sight.

5. Air Plants

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Air plants are some of the easiest plants to care for. They do not need any soil to grow, so there is less of a mess when caring for them. Air plants need to be rinsed once a week to be watered, and they can make beautiful additions to terrariums. They require bright, indirect sunlight although they love warmth, and are overall very low-maintenance but also add a stunning pop of color to any room.

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