When I was ten years old I got my first puppy. He was a little cotton ball. The breeder told me that he was a golden retriever, which was clearly a lie, but I didn't care. Eleven years later, he is still my pride and joy. I imagine that you all feel the same way about your dogs. There is no better feeling than walking through your front doors and seeing the pure joy in your dogs face. You don't even mind the jumping, the barking, the scratching, or the almost knocking you over.

Seven months ago, I rescued an eight-month-old Pitbull-Lab mix, and just when I thought I knew all I needed to know about puppy-love, he proved me wrong. For the bigger portion of his life, he was chained outside and neglected.

When he stepped foot through my front doors, he took nervous steps. He was cautious with every movement around the house. I could count the ribs sticking out of his body. He was fifty pounds, which was severely underweight, and his paperwork said he was dehydrated. There were little scars and scratches all over his skin, which the vet said were from a skin problem due to lack of nutrients.

The first night, he slept on the foot of my bed. When I called his name, he looked at me and if I was lucky enough to get him to walk toward me, he came with his tail in between his legs as if he was in trouble. Every time he ate, he did it as if he didn't know when his next meal was coming. I tried taking him on walks and to parks, but he had no energy. My heart broke for him.

Because I had owned my dog since he was a puppy, I had to work with this one. I had to train an almost year old dog. I had given him enough love every day to slowly ease him out of his shell. Month by month he'd move closer to me on the bed. He started eating only when he was hungry. He finally reached a healthy weight.

I would look at him and wonder how it is possible that someone didn't love him. When I get home, his whole butt wiggles instead of just his tail. He sleeps now with his head on my chest. He has no sense of personal space. When I call him he jumps on top of me as if he's a lap dog, when in reality he's almost ninety pounds. He's the goofiest, most loving, most human dog I've ever met, but he was too afraid to show it before.

Rescue dogs have all the traits that make us love dogs in the first place. They just have to learn how to trust again. No matter what their situation was before, they are able to open up to people again. I've seen videos of fighting dogs playing with babies after they've been rescued. I've seen dogs who've had their ears chopped with rusty scissors licking their human until their tongue ran dry.

All it takes is a little bit of love to bring out the best in these dogs. Even after someone beats them, fights them, neglects them, leaves them tied outside for their whole life, they can still love again.

There are so many dogs waiting to be adopted from shelters. Every year millions are euthanized due to overcrowding. Most people think of these dogs as vicious or old, but realistically, they are some of the sweetest dogs you can find. All they need is a second chance at happiness to bring out their spunk.