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I have a dog named Puppy, though she is far from puppy-hood. In fact, a few weeks ago, we celebrated her quinceañera (why yes, I am single). As I often tell her, she is my favorite puppy of all the puppies in the world. But it wasn’t always that way. More than a decade ago, I remember standing in our shared kitchen when my sister and her boyfriend “surprised” me with their brilliant idea.

“We’re going to get a dog.”

“No we aren’t.”

“Yeah, we are. It’s going to be so fun, we already talked to the landlord and we promise we’ll walk her every day.”

As the annoyingly responsible member of our roommate group, I suspected that I would end up taking care of the dog. And I was not having it. I protested by refusing to call her by her given name, Neveah (Heaven spelled backwards. Not appropriate for this or any other beast). I declined to feed, walk or train her.

I dug my heels in, refusing to fall in love with her. I knew if I did, I would end up her caretaker, and dammit, I didn’t want a dog in the first place!

She was not easy to love either. She had been severely abused, so she would cower, shake and pee on the floor if you tried to pet her. She was afraid of all toys, and her dog bed. She didn’t know how to walk on a leash. She had separation anxiety and took it out on at least four Comcast remotes, which, as broke 20-somethings, we struggled to replace.

But slowly she grew on me. She used to greet guests by running top speed towards the front door, always forgetting the wood floors. When she hit the breaks, she would slide, topsy-turvy, limbs-flailing, ultimately crashing into the couch or the wall. She is very vocal, and her song sounds like a deranged donkey, which is never not funny. To this day, her preferred snack is a whole carrot, which hangs out of the side of her mouth in a look that can only be described as “derpy.” And never has a butt wiggled so enthusiastically as when her humans come home.

When my sister and her boyfriend broke up, my first thought was, “he doesn’t get Puppy.” And that’s when she officially became my dog. I could wax on about what a good dog she is, but it would be the same story that has ever been told about our dog friends. Loyal, patient, sweet and intuitive, she never leaves my side when I’m sick or sad. She protects me from intruders (mostly mail carriers). And even with her old arthritic hips, she still wiggles with joy when I come home.

Everyone loves Puppy. Her birthday party, which started as a joke, was better attended than my own. And as everyone sang happy birthday while she enjoyed a doggy cupcake, my heart burst with love for all my friends, human and canine alike.

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