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A Girl and Her Dog

February 23, 2010 started off as a very normal day.  I was at the Town Lake Animal Center in Austin, volunteering for Austin Pets Alive, an incredible rescue organization that finds homes for dogs at risk of euthanasia.  While walking the aisles lined by kennels, peering in to see the sad faces of the dogs that ended up there, I came across kennel 127 where a scruffy, brown dog wearing a red bandana stood staring at me.  His information sheet said that he was an 8 month old wire haired fox terrier mix that came to the shelter as a stray.  I couldn't pass him by, so I leaned down to say hello, totally unaware of the fact that this little dog would soon be a huge part of my life. I happened to finish my tasks for the rescue organization early, so I decided to take number 127 out to play.  From that moment on, there was no going back.  Number 127, who later became known as Oliver, had captured my heart.  I returned to the shelter the following day to complete the adoption application and, a few days later, I brought home my new best friend.  I can honestly say that the $75 adoption fee I spent on him was the best purchase I've ever made.

Initially, my parents were concerned that I didn't have time for a dog. At this point, I was a junior in college living a busy life with school and extracurricular activities consuming much of my time.  Having seen others adopt dogs and neglect to give them the attention they deserve, I understood their concern.  Fortunately, that wasn't the case with me.

Instead, Oliver became my little sidekick.  When at all possible, Ollie tagged along with me wherever I went.  Sure, we would do the "normal" dog activities like going to the dog park, walking around campus to look for squirrels, etc.  But that wasn't all.  Oliver went to the mall, became a frequent visitor of the Texas Exes Alumni Center where I had meetings, and even came to class with me a couple of times.  He also became the unofficial doggy mascot for the Texas baseball team, attending numerous games with me and watching from behind the left field fence.   My friends knew that if we were going out to eat, we would have to go somewhere that was "dog-friendly" so Oliver could come, too.

As a vet student, the stress of school can become overwhelming, and, at times, you can be so focused on school that the other aspects of your life are pushed to the wayside.  While I may not be able to bring Oliver to class with me everyday, I have managed to keep his happiness a priority, which in turn keeps me happy.  We take our walks, have our play time, and we are certain to keep practicing our tricks (he just recently learned "bang, bang" and falls to the ground).  I sometimes even make baked goods in an attempt to entice my friends to study at my apartment rather than going to the library so I don't have to leave him. Oliver is a light in my day, takes away my stress, and brings joy to my life.  I can genuinely say that he has changed who I am, and I am so thankful that I opened my heart to this scruffy, loving little dog.