I remember the day that I got my first dog like it was yesterday. We were “just looking,” my dad re-affirmed about 200 times. It was my eighth birthday and my parents had promised that once I turned eight I could get a dog. So naturally the first thing I wanted to do on that day was go look for dogs!
My mom wasn’t thrilled on the idea so she stayed at home. My dad and I headed to Pet Smart (I know not the most ethical pet shop choice but that’s not the point of this). The moment I saw her I knew she was the one. That beautiful merle coat of fluffy fur, potent puppy breath and those take me home eyes, how could you not just fall in love. With some strategic negotiation, “Please dad can we get her, please, please, please! I promise I’ll take care of her!” the jump up and down and give the best doe eyes possible.
It worked! We brought home a beautiful nine-week-old Australian Shepard and named her Kelly.
At that time I had no idea who/what Kelly would be to me. I was an eight-year-old girl who had dreamed of having a dog her entire eight-year-long life, but had no idea what it would mean.
Kelly saw me at my lowest lows; she was there for me when girls in middle school bullied me. She was there for me when I failed a test or lost a cheer competition. She was there for me when boys broke my heart. She was there for me when I cried the entire night before I left to go away for college. She was there for me when I didn’t get that job I so badly wanted. She was there for me when it felt like no one else was.
Not only was she there to help me through the hard times, she’s been there for me for the good as well. She was there for me when I learned how to drive. She was there for me when I had my first kiss. She was there for me when I graduated high school and college. She was there for me when I came home from wild parties with my friends. She was there for me when I got my first real job out of college. She’s been there for me for all-big things in my life, maybe not directly, but she would be waiting at the front door to hear all about it when I came back.
The good, the bad, the ugly, she’s been there and she has been committed to being there with no judgments, no opinions, just ultimate support and slobbery kisses of encouragement. Kelly slept right at my bedroom door for 10 years until I left for college. I always felt safe with her, not because she’s a fierce dog, she’s totally not, but because if it came down to it she’d kick anyone’s a** who tried to mess with me.
My Kelly girl has been the one thing that has remained constant in my life for the past 15 years. She is still as loyal and loving as the day we got her. I’m sure anyone reading this who isn’t thinking, god this girl is weird about her dog, understands the impact that their first dog has on them.
Sometimes I feel bad for the times I kicked her off my bed, or made her go outside because she was too excited. I feel bad for the times I should have taken her with me on walks or runs or the times she probably could have come with me to go get a coffee. I only feel bad because I know if she were me she would have never done those things. Dogs are so special in that way, they love you more than you could ever possibly love them. That’s their mission, to be your dog and maybe catch a squirrel or two.
Now that Kelly is older and smellier it makes me realize how truly special she has been to me and continues to be. It’s hard to see her lose her spunk and agility. But I have been so incredibly blessed to have her around as long as I have and I am so thankful for it. Nothing could replace the bond I have with her, she’s my best-friend.
Kelly, 15 years young