Every year, without fail, I would ask my dad for one present. Every Christmas, every birthday, relentlessly. Dad, can I please have a dog?!


My email was even giveemmadog. Hey, don’t judge me I was 12.


I asked for 16 years. But I always got a creative response.


“Go play with the neighbor’s dog. Go volunteer at the animal shelter.”


So, I did. Only, there always seemed to be a missing piece in my life. A dog I can call my own.


Have you ever just had a horrible day where the sky is grey and everything is going absolutely horrible? That was the day I was having a few weeks before my 17th birthday.


School had just taken the last piece of joy I had left. I came home with tears in my eyes and pain in my heart.


My mom held me as a quietly wept for the hundredth time that year and she knew exactly what to do.


My mom and I both wanted a dog more than anything. And we finally stopped asking my dad for permission, instead, that day, we were going to ask for forgiveness.


“Do you want to go get a dog?” My mom squeezed me tight as my tears stopped instantly.


I made a SQUEEEEE kind of sound and jumped up. Today was the day my heart would find it’s missing piece.


We hopped in the car and we drove to the shelter where my mom and I used to volunteer at. Cedar Valley Humane Society.


I pull up their website on my phone and I look at their adoptable dogs’ tab. As the page loads, a pair of bronze eyes look at me. Knox. This huge brindle puppy is named Knox.


I make an even louder SQUEEEE and show my mom his picture. She echoes my noise. We both have a love of big dogs.


So excited, I call the shelter. “Do you still have Knox?” I frantically ask.


“Yes!” The lady over the phone answers.


“We are on our way!” I shout and I start dancing in my seat.


Moments fly by and we are now walking through the shelter doors. I remember absolutely nothing until we walk into the dog kennel. The cacophonous sound of 15 dogs barking blasted in our ears.


But, there was one dog that wasn’t making a single sound. A shy huge brindle puppy named Knox.


His sad bronze eyes look into mine, and I swear it felt the same way as falling in love did.


The shelter worker remembered us from our years of work there, and she just let us take Knox out on our own.


When you take a dog outside of his kennel, he usually will run and run and run.


But Knox didn’t. He sat down right on my lap and looked at me like, “Aren’t you gonna pet me?”


My mom gasped, “EMMMA!! OH MY GOODNESS.”


I asked Knox if he wanted to be my dog, and as stupid as this sounds, he wagged his tail and gave me a big tongue kiss on my face.


So, we took him home.


That was over a year and a half ago. No joke, I still look at his cute face and say how lucky I was to find him. No, he isn’t certified, but he sure is my therapy dog. I have cried into his fur more times than I can count. I play catch with him when I need to smile. He cuddles me every morning when getting up to go to school is the last thing I want to do.


We might have saved him, but I promise you he has saved me more.


So what is my wise advice for you? I guess if you are sad, go get a dog. Or if you already have a dog, go hug him.


Even just being around dogs when I volunteered was my medicine. Dogs have this way of just making life better. Knox has gotten me through these past few years. I didn’t know I could love something so much.


There are so many places to find your next best friend. Cedar Valley Humane Society is my favorite rescue in this area. They are a low kill shelter, meaning they only put an animal if they are sick, or are violent. They would never put an animal down who had been there “too long.”


From their website, it proudly states, “More than 2,000 animals are cared for by the CVHS each year.”


They took in my Knox who was abused by his first owners. He then got loose and was wild for most likely a few months.


If you take home a dog, you are taking home a lot of responsibility. But better than that, you get a new best friend to keep you company. You also get a new way to exercise, and a little fur baby to teach fun tricks.


The benefits of getting a shelter dog are really endless. And the life you save might even be your own.


P.S.  My dad loves Knox now too.


Written by Emma Kossayian

Pennsylvania born, Iowa grown.

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