Dogs can be our pets, our friends, our family, and in my case, some of the best things to have in your life.

I have three dogs, the eldest Diogi (D.O.G.), who is always happy to see you and keeps licking no matter how much you tell her to stop. Kody is a big bear that loves to nap and cuddle, and when you need it he will become an anxiety-relieving plush toy with a heartbeat. Last but not least is Gunner, who is tiny and has a mustache, loves my mom, and will sniff out a hidden toy within seconds. My three dogs are always happy to see me even if I’m not in the mood for their silly antics. They make me feel like the only thing I need is a video to laugh about it later.

We’ve had Diogi since she was about 16 weeks old. She was a big hassle when we were trying to adopt her. One Christmas season, my parents decided to get us a young pup. They went to the mall, but thought it would not hurt to look in the local shelter. Sure enough, there was a tiny, dark, chocolate-blackish, Aussie shepherd mix puppy, yelping around in a cage.

When my parents went to the front desk and asked about her, the assistant told them she was being adopted at that moment and a family was already signing and going through the paperwork for her. Later, my parents were looking on the website to see if she was still there. They found her on the website still so they called in. The receptionist said that the family had pulled out of her adoption application so my dad went down the next day, only to find that they had moved her to Lucky Paws. My dad called Lucky Paws and reserved her until the next day—again. My parents had to wait until my mom got off work to go get her.

When they got there it had been 15 minutes past the reserved time, and again someone had spoken for her. After they had tried to call that person 10 times, they gave her to us for adoption. When we got home a little puppy came running to our feet with a wagging tail and a big doggie smile (if dogs could smile she definitely had one). My black fluff ball has grown up with me since I was eight. Now she is 35 in dog years and runs around in the country, unlike the life we used to know in the city of Albuquerque with walks every weekend, and a cement walk she walked like a cat, but instead endless flatlands and a huge yard for her to run all day.

Then there is Kodi. We got him as a Christmas present to my mom after the first puppy we brought out here when we first moved in died that past summer. Boots died of distemper which is a canine-transmitted disease that is spread by coyotes and dogs from the country. Kodi is part Husky and we think German Shepherd. When we got him from our stepbrother he was fully vaccinated. He was tiny and a little less wrinkled than a pug with a longer nose. My dad said he looked like a little Kodiak bear. My mom said before that that she always wanted to name a dog Zack or Cody so we settled on Kodi.

When he was a puppy Kodi used to nap in my parents’ pillows and sleep by their heads. When he got bigger he started sleeping on the end of their bed, and by the time he started to resemble a mini-horse he was on the floor with Diogi and my other dog at the time, Paulo, on his bed. We still don’t know what his father is and we have our suspicions, maybe he is Rhodesian Ridgeback or Sharpei, and certainly part German Shepherd.

Little, but not least, there is Gunner. Quick question: Have you ever gotten a dog from Walmart? I had not until about a year and and three months ago. I, my sister and my parents were making our monthly run for animal feed, food and anything else we need when we noticed a small crowd around one end of the entrances of Walmart. When we got there there was a sign saying “Puppies for Free” and there were three puppies in a plastic tub, with a man and women trying to give them away. When my sister and I saw the sign, we looked at each other and knew we were going home with a new puppy who was part terrier and part Lab.

I love and appreciate my furry family.

They have taught me that sometimes the right dogs just come into your life, just to shower us with unconditional love and loyalty, probably right when we need it.