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Challenge: We love our pets

My first baby had fur

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I've always been an avid dog person. I grew up around dogs and never imagined not having a four-legged friend walking around my home.

Then I moved out of my parents' house and got a place of my own.

My studio apartment was small and quaint, yet was too quiet and lacked an animal companion. But it would be a few years before I decided I was determined to get my own dog.

I remember the day I drove to pick up Toby from a local animal rescue shelter. I had fallen in love with his squishy pug/bulldog face on an online adoption board and knew I had to have him.

That was almost 12 years ago, and a lot has changed since then. Toby went through several moves, living in five different locations until my husband and I bought our first home six years ago. An adaptable dog, he made his home wherever he went, and soaked up any and all attention he got from his caregivers.

Toby was my first baby. He was my first responsibility caring for another being other than myself. In his early days, he was spoiled with snuggles in bed, daily walks, toys and treats. But as human babies came along, the time devoted to spoiling my furry companion grew less as it often does when kids enter the household.

Toby is now in his Golden Years, and I often think of how much longer I get to spend with him. Even though some days he drives me crazy with his stubbornness and exceptional skill for stealing food from any surface in our home, I look at him and feel an overwhelming love for this animal who has been a part of my life for over a decade. We've been through a lot together and it brings me such joy to see my children love on him.

He's a part of the family. Not all of my kids walk on two legs; some have four and a curly tail.

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