Making a house 
a home.

We got Emily when I was in the fifth grade. My tears over something or other at home meant my parents dragged me along on a pre-Christmas errand to a breeder. It was supposed to be a surprise for us kids, but instead, I got to choose our puppy.

Really, she chose me.

I can still see my denim-covered knees against an old sheet on the breeder’s floor, and the mess and dazzle and craze of a litter of Border Collies, and how Emily ran right to me, all brown and soft, a lick of white in the middle of her forehead, eyes that seemed human and kind.

She was a true companion—loyal and sweet and smelly—and remains planted in at least the periphery of all my childhood memories: just there, meek and waiting, or fighting baths or wanting to sit in the front seat, the window rolled down.

I was a grown-up by the time she died. I had two children of my own, a different sort of mess and dazzle and craze in a tiny house in the snow, two states away. Still, my dad’s voice cracked on the phone when he told me, and I sobbed great loud cries into his ear. Emily was our pooch, a true part of our family, and I loved her dearly.

Since then, I’ve come to insist I’m not an animal person, even as my home suggests otherwise. Between my reptile-loving son, dog-loving daughter and the cats that just keep showing up, we’ve had more pets than I can count on both hands.

As such, we’ve collected a lot of pet stories: the dog that ate all the Halloween candy; the hamster that climbed up a hole in the wall and emerged days later; the time we (surprise!) had seven kittens; the puppy that arrived the same week as the newborn baby…

You have these stories too. That awww-inducing goodness starts on page 20. If that’s not enough for you, dive deeper into more animal goodness at The Living Planet, page 22. And if you’re just getting started on this animal-loving journey, page 14 is the place for you.

Happy February, friends!

Brooke Benton, Editor