This I Believe

Mandy - Louisville, Colorado
Entered on January 3, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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The Paw Print Spirit

You know that old saying that a dog is a man’s best friend? Well this connection has a special meaning for me. Unlike a lot of children, my family didn’t have any pets except fish when I was a child.

When I reached the 6th grade, we started to look for a dog because my parents felt that my brother and I could handle it. We finally settled on a happy go lucky black Retriever from a puppy rescue who we named Levi because it was the only name Sean and I could agree on. While the day was a success, I soon discovered that Levi was not the playful puppy he appeared to be at the shelter. Levi was a very timid dog who feared most noises and strangers yet no matter what, he loved me and everyone else in the family. This was a great lesson for me because it showed that you can’t just give up in hard times. Levi was part of the family and could not just be returned like an article of clothing. He was practically a brother to me and I was determined to make his life a happy one. Sadly, Levi suddenly became ill when I was starting my sophomore year. He was only 4 years old and the veterinarians could not figure out what was ailing him. After a multitude of tests that really took a toll on my spirit, Levi was diagnosed with a nervous system disorder that he died from two weeks later. While I was obviously sad at the loss of my best friend, it was not apparent because I was numb from the experience. I had never lost a family member before but I wanted to stay strong for everyone else. Levi was our first dog and I just wanted to remember his good times. To this day I do not know why Levi was chosen to go so soon, but one very obvious and joyous result was the new addition to our family.

Axel Strauss (named for his big brother!) was welcomed to our family in November 2005, two months after Levi’s death. The two of them seemed like polar opposites. Axel was a ball of energy ready to take on the world with every walk. They also differed in their appearance with Levi being a stocky black Retriever and Axel being a tall slender Siberian Husky. Yet Axel taught me a major lesson. As I got to know him, I saw more and more similarities with Levi. They both had an innocent view of the world that seemed to revolve around their family. Axel became my shadow and to this day follows me everywhere. I believe my dog can show the world how no matter the circumstances, all creatures need a companion. Axel is my buddy whom I can talk to even if he doesn’t understand. Levi needed his family to protect and love him. Most importantly, whether we are canine or human, we all need to believe that someone cares for us. Everyone wants to be popular but even someone with only one friend can have the happiest life because they know deep down inside that someone really cares for them and for me, this companion is my dog whether it be Axel’s smile or Levi’s everlasting spirit.