In May of 2021, Dani and I got married and started our new life together. At first, just like with a lot of newlyweds, our lifestyles went through a lot of changes. After a few months, Dani started feeling anxious because she was spending so much time home alone in the apartment while I was working all day. We knew we needed to do something to help her deal with her anxiety, so we talked about it and decided that since we were both pet lovers, we were going to add a new 4-legged member to our family.

Dani’s aunt was a regular volunteer at an animal shelter called “Animal Aware.” We talked to her and she arranged a visit to the shelter so we could look for an addition to our family. When we arrived at the shelter, we quickly learned that there were over 300 animals…mostly dogs and cats, but there was a horse, too. We knew it was going to be a challenge, but not in our wildest dreams did we realize how hard it actually was going to be.

We walked by one pen after another and felt overwhelmed because there where so many deserving animals that needed a home. It definitely didn’t help that they were all looking up at us with those irresistible “puppy dog” eyes. After spending several hours carefully looking at one dog after another, our eyes met up with the eyes of a small, black female dog and it was love at first sight. We were able to take her out of her pen and held her in our arms and we both knew she was the one for us. With those adorable brown eyes looking up at us, she did a great job of tugging on our heart strings.

We decided to name her Macarena after an hour or two of brainstorming every possible dog name in the book. When Dani called her aunt to let her know which dog we chose, her aunt started to cry, and we soon learned they were tears of joy. It turns out that Macarena held a very special place in her aunt’s heart. Macarena was hit by a car nearly 6 months prior to when we adopted her. Her medical bills to treat her injuries were close to $1,000. The shelter held a special fundraiser for Macarena since they were having a hard time making ends meet. Her aunt was crying because she knew all of the effort the shelter put in to raise the money and care for Macarena did not go in vain.

Since the moment Macarena came into our lives, so many things have changed for the better. It has felt like a fresh start for all of us. Dog owners are always quick to tell you how much work it takes to raise a dog the right way. There are so many important things that going into it…potty training, crate training, dealing with teething and chewing, the best food to feed being just a few of them.

We were so glad to have Macarena as a part of our family and she has definitely helped us to be more active. At first, we thought Macarena was just going to be good company for Dani in the apartment, but she has ended up being so much more than that. She is Dani’s exercise partner. Every day, rain or shine, Dani takes her for a long walk to the park where she gets to run and play with other dogs and kids. The daily exercise has definitely helped Dani deal with her anxiety in a positive way, too. Macarena has also become Dani’s shopping buddy as she has a backpack carrier where she can load Macarena in and tote her from store to store. Dani is even convinced that Macarena helps her decide what clothes look good on her and which don’t. I am not sure if I buy that or not, but Dani said Macarena looks at her a certain way is she doesn’t like the outfit.

Macarena has definitely helped me to be more productive and disciplined every day, too. Before she joined our family, I would wake up at 7:30 in the morning and speed through a shower and breakfast and rush to work. Now I am waking up at 6:00 a.m. to take her for a walk and after we get back, we still have plenty of time for the 3 of us to enjoy a nice, relaxed family breakfast.  Macarena has even become a “water” dog as she has taken a liking to hopping in the shower with me most mornings. I can safely say we have the cleanest dog in town.

I truly believe that dogs come into our lives for a reason. Whether that is to help us fill that void that had previously been empty or just to provide a source of unending love and joy while we deal with the trials and tribulations that life inevitably sends our way. Their ability to unconditionally love is like no other creature God has created.

Dani and I are both so thankful for Macarena because she has filled our lives with such joy and purpose. She has made us better people and has taught us how to unconditionally love her in return. We are so thrilled to have been able to give Macarena a second chance in life and give her a loving forever home, but we are even more thankful for her teaching us to be the type of people that she already thinks we are.

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