To Our New Four-Legged Family Member

To Our New Four-Legged Family Member

You aren't the first, but that doesn't mean you're second best.

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To the newest addition to the family,

There was one before you.

Riley Johnston

He came on a snowy Christmas Eve and left on a rainy spring day.

He was our first.

He held and still holds a big piece of our hearts. We were broken when he left us, but it was his time. He wasn't suffering anymore.

Two years went by and I, for one, still got tears in my eyes when I thought of him. I didn't know if I had the strength to love another the same way I loved him yet.

Then you came.

You were alone and scared and sick and broken. You survived a horrific start in life and still held a wondrous joy in your soul. You were ours before we even said yes.

You are different than the first.

You play with his old toys and sleep where he slept but you are not the same. You eat where he ate, play where he played, and sniff where he sniffed.

Yet, you are different.

You are different, but you love the way he loved. You strive to make us happy the way he did.

You weren't the only one saved. You saved us too.

You wiggled your way into our hearts just like he did, and although you may be our second and my heart still hurts for our first, you are and never will be second best.

Thank you for coming into our lives and loving us the way he did and letting us love you the way we loved him too.

Milo Johnston

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I Recently Found Out That A Close Relative Of Mine Could Have Been Aborted

Had they been aborted, I wouldn't be here.

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I stood in my office with the door closed, holding my phone tightly. Staring out the window at the people walking the streets several stories below me, I wondered how many of them had almost been aborted…or survived an abortion…or even knew that one of their parents never wanted them to be born. I thought about my life and everything I had done. I spun through the Rolodex of memories in my brain: the good, the bad, and the ugly. My beautiful childhood memories, specific choices I made and the consequences that followed, the friends I have, the job I love, the family that I miss because I live so far from them. None of it would exist if my relative had never been born. That thought hit me hard.

The person on the other end of the line said to me, "You know you wouldn't be here if they had been aborted." "I know," I responded, "That's a crazy thought." My day started out totally normal until I received the phone call that made my world stop for just one second. Hearing the word "abortion" associated with one of my closest relatives completely personalized the whole abortion debate for me. While the news hit me hard suddenly, I actually didn't think too much about it. I went about my day like nothing had changed.

You'll notice in the title of this article I said: "could have been aborted." What I mean by "could have been" is that my relative wasn't wanted by one of their parents. But God had other plans. My relative was carried to full term, born a healthy baby, and has lived a full and successful life. That's the thing about abortion: Humans think they know what's best, we think we have control, but God has other plans…perfect plans that humans don't have the ability to meddle with.

When I got back to my apartment that night, I thought about the phone call that took place earlier that day. The phone call I wasn't expecting and certainly had no way of foreseeing. It changed my thinking in ways I didn't realize at first. I started appreciating all the little things. It sounds cheesy, but it's true. Everything I did seemed special. Every move I made suddenly had purpose and meaning. I think it's because I now knew that all of this would not have been if one of my relative's parents hadn't chosen life. If both of them wanted to get rid of the baby, my relative never would have seen the light of day.

All of this came to a head for me when I attended a pre-screening of Unplanned. Go see that movie. It is well worth your time and money. During one of the abortion scenes, all I could think was: "This could have happened to my relative." But God had other plans; plans that cannot be thwarted because He is God and we are not. He knows what's best and we do not. Receiving the news about my relative wasn't easy to hear or process, but it only reinforced God's goodness in my life.

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10 Signs You Are Not Ready To Be A Dog Owner

Just because you want a dog, doesn't mean you're ready for a dog.

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For most college students, having a dog of their own is like having a piece of home with them, if they grew up around dogs or caring for other's pets. College students adopt or rescue dogs because of the desire to have some comfort or something to care for. Most college students will abandon or take their dogs to shelters at the end of the school year because of their new housing or the cost of caring for an animal.

If you moved from your home with your dog, you may see it as too much responsibility and take your pet home after the semester. Chances are, you aren't ready to have a dog of your own, and here are 10 signs that you aren't ready yet.

1. You don't always spend the night at home.

If you find yourself spending the night at friend's houses or with a significant other, not coming home often and being out all day, having a dog of your own may not be the best choice for you right now.

2. You're a frequent traveler.

Similar to spending the night at someone else's place, if you like to travel often, having your own dog can be difficult. For those people who go back home every weekend or travel out of state often, being a dog owner may hinder the traveling. You either have to take the dog with you, find someone to dog sit, or find a place that offers boarding for dogs.

3. You've let house plants die.

You've got numerous dead plants lying around your home. You forget to water them, you leave them in the dark without sun, or you simply don't remember they exist - that may be a big sign that having a dog is not right for you.

4. The smell of dog poop is overwhelming for you.

Sure, crap is crap. But if you can't get used to picking up after your dog every time they need to go, you probably shouldn't own a dog. And if the dog relieves himself/herself in the home, you need to be quick to clean it and understand that things like that happen.

5. You're allergic to dogs.

Obviously, the main reason you shouldn't own a dog is if you're allergic. There's no point in popping Benadryl every time you want to pet your dog, even if it is hypoallergenic.

6. You lose interest in things easily.

As dogs get older, they may lose their puppy energy. If you're easily bored or lose interest in things, being a dog owner is not for you. Dogs require constant attention, love, and care. A dog owner loves their dog no matter what.

7. You don't have the money to afford a dog.

Vaccinations, pet food, obedience training- all of that costs money. Owning a dog is expensive and there's no way around it. You'll spend about $1,200 on your first year of being a dog owner, not including the extra cost to have a dog in an apartment or housing complex.

8. Taking a dog out for the day is a challenge for you.

If you're a social butterfly and spend most of your weekends out and about, enjoying long brunches or taking a leisurely stroll through the stores, you'll find that most people do that with their dogs. However, it takes a lot of effort to take a dog out that isn't used to a new environment. You can kiss your relaxing brunch goodbye if your dog won't sit still or stop begging for food.

9. You're not a responsible person.

Face it - your friends say you're the least responsible out of the group. You're forgetful, lazy, and a procrastinator. Dogs require owners who are responsible. If you go home for the holidays and are okay with leaving your dog behind, you are irresponsible and should not be a dog owner.

10. Your current housing does not permit dogs.

If you have to hide your dog when the front office staff comes to do inspections, you should not have a dog. If you have to keep the dog at a friend's house because you can't have dogs at your place, you should not have a dog. Only own a dog if you can care for them comfortably in your own home.

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