Call it cheesy or call it weird, but I truly believe in the power of a dog to change your life. Not just a dog for that matter—it could be a cat, a guinea pig, a goat, or a ferret—sometimes, a pet can be the only friend you have in the world. When I was three, I had a lab/catahoula mix named Sam. She was my best friend. I lived so far out of town that I was rarely able to attend the birthday parties of children my own age, and I never got to have sleepovers like all the other girls. I stayed at home all week with the exception of going to school. Each morning Sam would walk me to the school bus stop at the end of my seemingly endless driveway, and be waiting there when I returned that afternoon. She and I had many adventures roaming the hayfields and attempting to pet the wild cows that we pretended were wildebeest or buffalo; wherever our stories happened to take us. Unlike my brother, she never told on me when we fed the horses carrots and apples, and when I rode my pony, she always stayed close by. I told her of my aspirations to be a famous veterinarian, saving the lives of everything from fleas to humpback whales, and she always listened so much more attentively than anyone else ever did. My mom said that she was the best babysitter I could possibly have.
Our adventures were somewhat short-lived, however. My mom and step-dad got a divorce when I was eleven, and I only saw Sam twice after I moved out. My little sisters came home from their dad’s house one day and told me that Sam had died. Although it had been a long time since I had seen her, I remembered the times when she brightened my day, and I missed having a friendship that unconditional and true. A few weeks later, I happened upon a dog rescue website on accident. I suddenly realized that I was at a point in my life when I really needed a true friend. So, I started browsing for a dog. It needed to be a smaller breed since I now had a larger family, but I really wanted a dog that could get dirty too. When I had nearly given up hope, I found Mimzy. A West Highland White Terrier, she begged to be rescued from the little cage in which she had resided for the first four months of her life. The first time they put her in my arms, I knew she was the one for me. Training her was a wake-up call, and although my dreams of being a veterinarian had recently been tested, Mimzy gave me the inspiration I needed to get into the right college.
To this day, there are very few places you will see me without Mimzy. Her favorite place is in my lap driving down the road. She comforts me when I am sad, forgives me when I get mad, and she always listens to my problems. Maybe dogs are so loyal to us because we fill their food dish, but I like to believe that’s not the only reason. Though they can be frustrating at times, I will never forget that the dogs in my life have inspired me to do something worthwhile, and for that, I will be forever indebted to them.