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Living Well: The Transformative Power of Opening Your Heart to a Dog

It was a decision that initially gave me pause, but ended up being one of the most profoundly rewarding choices I've ever made. When my dear friend Rob asked me which of Lucy's puppies I would be taking home, I hesitated. I had never owned a dog before, and the commitment seemed daunting. But there was something about the playful black pup with the shaggy doodle coat that caught my eye. Against my better judgment, I found myself agreeing to welcome Mollie into my life.

From the moment she came home, that decision proved to be a true gift. Mollie, my 34-pound labradoodle, has been a constant source of joy, comfort, and inspiration over the past 13 years. She is a people-pleaser by nature, making her easy to train and a delight to be around. I quickly found that including her in my daily activities was not a chore, but a pleasure. Whether I was running errands, going for walks, or simply relaxing at home, Mollie's exuberant presence made every moment brighter.

When my partner Jean-Michel came into our lives when Mollie was just 6 months old, the three of us became an inseparable trio. Mollie adored having two humans to dote on her, and we in turn reveled in her unwavering affection. She has been a constant companion, a loyal protector, and a boundless source of unconditional love.

Our move to Whidbey Island has been a game-changer for Mollie. Gone are the days of being a "city dog" confined to a small yard and prohibited from the nearby beach. Here, she has found her own personal stretch of shoreline where she can run, explore, and indulge her love of swimming to her heart's content. The vast open spaces and miles of hiking trails have allowed Mollie to truly embrace her adventurous spirit, and we have relished watching her thrive in this new environment.

Of course, with Mollie's advancing age (she's now 13 years old), I find myself increasingly aware of the finite nature of our time together. Each day, I am achingly conscious of her aging body and the inevitability of the day when I will have to say goodbye. But rather than let this awareness cast a pall over our time, it has instead inspired me to make the most of every moment. I strive to give Mollie the absolute best life possible, showering her with love, affection, and experiences that bring her joy.

In return, Mollie has enriched my life in ways I could never have imagined. She has taught me that love is not a finite resource, but something that grows and expands with each passing day. My capacity to love her has deepened exponentially, and I am in awe of the profound bond we share. Mollie has also reminded me to slow down, to savor the simple pleasures, and to find joy in the present moment. Her infectious enthusiasm for life's everyday wonders - a squirrel scurrying by, a gentle breeze, a tossed stick to chase - has inspired me to approach my own existence with a renewed sense of wonder and gratitude.

When I reflect on the decision to welcome Mollie into my life, I am filled with profound gratitude. It was a leap of faith that has paid dividends beyond measure. She has been my constant companion, my loyal protector, and my greatest teacher. Mollie has shown me that the love we share with our animal companions is a uniquely powerful and transformative force.

As I cherish the time we have left together, I am reminded that the true gift of pet ownership is not the material possessions or the daily tasks, but the opportunity to open our hearts to a being who will love us unconditionally. Mollie has taught me that by embracing that love, we unlock a wellspring of joy, comfort, and inspiration that enriches our lives in ways we can scarcely imagine.

So if you find yourself hesitating, as I once did, when presented with the chance to welcome a furry friend into your life, I encourage you to take the leap. For the love of a dog has the power to open your heart, expand your world, and transform your outlook in the most beautiful and profound ways. It may just be the single best decision you ever make.


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