The pets that I've had as an adult though have brought me immense joy. When I was starting grad school - way back in 2010 (just before I started this website, really) I got an Australian Shepherd puppy. Now, I'd been thinking for a really long time about getting a dog before I got one. I did personality and dog breed quizzes. I read articles about potty training. I researched and researched and researched for over a year. The thing that really made me decide that I needed to have a dog was Thor - a Labrador Retriever. Because of Thor, I felt like I could manage my own dog...so I got Bronson. He moved with me to College Station and then to Gatesville. He was my buddy during that time (which was very stressful) in my life. And he has always known exactly when I need just a little extra love.
Last year I became the sole owner of both Thor and Bronson. In January, my sister (who had started grad school and was working for a vets office) called me about some Manx kittens. Now, I grew up with cats. I like cats. But I knew there was no way with these two dogs that I could have cat too. She wore me down. I'd wanted a Manx for at least five years. And so, Myrrh came home with us. It took me about a month to adjust the household (lots of food, positive reinforcement, some negative reinforcement, and the will that this would just WORK) and now my little household is just perfect.
In March, Thor started getting sick. This dog has been in my life my entire adult life. When my grandmother died in August 2010 I was all alone at the house when I got the news. Just me...and Thor. I laid down on the couch and sobbed, and this dog wrapped himself around me and licked the tears off of my face as I cried. In August I had some big life changes and every time I would cry Thor would get a long-suffering look and snuggle up to me (no doubt thinking: here she goes, crying again). He's old. I get it. I know he's going to die. But so soon? So, we started going to the vet. And we've been to the vet pretty much every single month since March trying to figure out what's going on. Dozens of vet visits. Thousands of dollars. His fur started falling out. He started losing weight. His personality started changing. We tried antibiotics, steroids, medicated shampoo, antioxidants - and nothing was working. Finally, after more and more testing there was an answer. Thor has an auto-immune skin disease and the steroids that he was taking to treat it had given him liver disease. So, we began the process of decreasing the steroids, starting a human auto-immune drug, taking fish oil and anti-oxidants to help the liver. And you know what? His personality started coming back. And he started gaining weight. And he started playing with his toys again. And cuddling me again.
I realized something going through all of this with him: I absolutely adore this animal. He has the most tender, beautiful heart. And I knew that I needed to follow my own advice - the same advice that I give to people all the time when discussing aging relatives: document these moments while you can. Each second is so precious. Do something to remember the time that you have with them. So, I contacted a photographer - Hallie Sosolik - to take pictures of the little furry creatures that mean the absolute world to me.
Pets mean so much to us in our lives. When I wake up in the morning their little faces are the first things that I see and they are also the last things that I see when I go to bed. I'm not married. I have no children. I just have them. I think about those old pictures of Judy and how much my grandparents loved her - that they'd waste film on her in the 1940s when they didn't even have their own camera. So now, I've followed suit and have great pictures that capture the personalities of the little beasts that I adore. I encourage you to do the same.