The Power of Pets


Two weekends ago, Zoey and Dakota, my two rescue dogs went on an adventure. They traveled three hours to stay with my son, Stephen, while my husband and I went to Florida. The car was packed, because it also was Stephen’s 21st birthday. He loves the dogs and had been wanting to introduce them to his friends for a long time. It was a win-win situation, and his friends totally fell in love with both of them.


Zoey settled right in, but Dakota was like a caged animal. He followed Stephen everywhere. They both loved roaming the streets of Providence, and they were a nice distraction for Stephen during our toughest part of October.

Zoey and Dakota meeting college friends at a soccer game.

That’s the power of pets. For us it’s always been big dogs. They keep life in perspective, give you a reason to take a break and reset your day on a daily walk. I walk the dogs on most days after I have been sitting at my computer for a while. It’s like a walking meditation, and I can be in the moment with them.

Chloe was my stand in for my dogs on our trip to Florida. She gave me lots of kisses!

I didn’t realize how much I missed my dogs until they weren’t at home when I was there. I kept thinking I would take them for a walk or sit with them and rub their bellies before bedtime. I didn’t have Dakota to warm my feet under my desk or let them out 20 times a day, because Zoey had to hunt for chipmunks (well that last one was a nice break!).

Pets can give us purpose, someone to take care of, and offer comfort and unconditional love. It’s a part of their nature.

When I met Stephen to swap cars and bring the dogs home, Dakota practically jumped over the seat to get to me. My dogs can lift me up on my lowest day. As crazy as they can sometimes be, they have had a positive and enriching effect on the entire family. That’s the power of pets.

How does your pet enrich your life?

My Dogs—Gratitude Day 5

Ever since I can remember our family had a dog. My first dog as an adult was Brutus the Barber Beefcake. 

He joined me in my first apartment and then became our baby when Luke and I got married. He clung to me during my pregnancies and was wonderful with the boys. 

I found Zoey in my worst moment in life, and as I have said before was my tear catcher. We have a bond that is humanlike. She reads my moods and is simply loving. 

Dakota represents the innocent and fun loving part of life that we often forget about. He simply enjoys being with us. 

Every day I walk my dogs. As soon as I put shoes on, they are jumping over one another to get to the back door. You would think I never walked them! Walking them is my quiet time (mostly), and it’s like a walking meditation. I am so grateful to have them. I am also blessed to be able to work from home and spend a lot of time with them. 

They make me smile and appreciate the simple moments in life. 

Settle in Sundays

Family Pets

When I came home this morning from running some errands, my dogs, Zoey and Dakota, happily wagged their tails. I love coming home to my dogs and their unconditional love.

I prefer big dogs, and I often wonder if I will always have a pet or if some point it will be too much.

My first dog was a mix breed, I think. His name was Monday. We had him when we lived in Long Island. My memories of him are dim, but I think he was brown and white. I also think we may have had to give him away. Then we had a white shepherd named Thor. My dad loved dogs and took care of training them. Thor lived outside a lot when we moved to Greenville. He ran along a dog run, but would often get loose and chase the cows and deer. I believe we had to get rid of him too, because of that.

Then there was Sambo. He was a huge black labrador topping 100 pounds. He was an awesome dog, and I basically grew up with him. My sister, Michele, loved cats so we had a bunch in there along the way. We didn’t have too much luck with the cats unfortunately, but I remember a photo of Sambo and Willie when they were the same size.

We lost Sambo when he got hit by a car on our road. We lived on a back road in Greenville, and people drove down that road so fast. It really was quite dangerous. We were all heart broken, but I think my mom took it the hardest. That Christmas my dad got her another black lab, but her heart couldn’t mend to take another dog in. So Brutus the Barber Beefcake became my first dog. I had met my current husband only a few days before so Brutus was always Luke’s too. Brutus lived me with in my first and only apartment, and then he moved into our first house when Luke and I got married. Brutus was always by my side when I was pregnant. Even though he started slowing down when the boys were little, he had the perfect personality for them. Brutus passed away in 2003 after 15 wonderful years.

Nick Marisa and brutus 1997
Brutus with Nick and his cousin, Marisa


For the first time in my life I didn’t have a dog. It had turned out that I was allergic to them, so it was an easy decision not to get another one. The only problem was that our boys, especially Nick, wanted another dog terribly. Nick had a hamster named Chipper and Stephen had one named Zippy who met with an untimely death when he squished his head behind his hamster wheel!

When Nick became ill, I regretted not getting him a dog, and when he passed it was a decision that deeply saddened me. I adopted Zoey three months after Nick passed. I just happened to be driving to the store and saw this gray bundle in a cart going into Pet Smart. I fell in love with Zoey and my allergies have never reacted to her. I think it has something to do with the fact that she isn’t a purebred. Who knows or maybe it was that I needed her too much.

Zoey Shadow–Black Lab and Akita mix

Then two years later Dakota came along, because Zoey was a momma’s girl! Stephen picked out Dakota and Zoey approved her while Luke was away on business. Luckily it worked out and having two dogs is an adventure.

Dakota Kenny–Black Lab, Shepherd and Tennessee wild dog!

Dogs fulfill my life in a way that is hard to describe. Even my siblings have had or continue to get dogs, and Stephen plans on having at least three when he’s on his own. They love you no matter what and our dogs tell our life stories. Where we were emotionally, physically, and socially; they know more about us than we will ever know. They understand us, protect us, and love us no matter what we do. I think I’ll have a dog as long as I can.

What types of pets did you have as a child? Who’s pet were they? Or were you not allowed to have pets and how has that affected you as an adult; tons of pets or none? What do you love about have pets and what does your dog say about you?