I got Dainty when I was 12 (7th grade). I had always wanted a dog, but my family's lifestyle - the constant travel - wouldn't allow it. When I was 11, I found a loop hole. If I raised a Guide Dog for the Blind, I would get a puppy for a year (that isn't that long when you compare it to the life of a dog) and it would be able to travel with us. I talked it over with my family and started attending Guide Dog meetings. Soon after my 12th birthday, I got Dainty. A white Labrador. She taught me a lot about life and responsibility. Apparently I told my mom "When I get to high school and they make us take care of a sack of flour like a baby, I'm going to tell them 'no way, I have a puppy."
I kept Dainty for a year, fully expecting to give her up and never see her again. After that year, we dropped Dainty off for training. A couple months later we got word that she had failed (few dogs actually make it through) and that she was going to be placed for adoption. Host families (those that raise the dogs) get first choice when it comes to adoption. However, I knew my family would never be able to adopt her. A couple of weeks later. I came home from school and there she was, sitting at my front door! My parents had decided to adopt her and surprise my brother and I.
That was 9 years ago. Since then I've graduated from high school AND graduated from college. If she were my actual child, she would be entering the 2nd grade. And I would be complaining of having a daughter who was in the "double digits." It has been 7 years since 9/11. Dainty shares her birthday with the this national memorial day. While I've grown older, she has too. In dog years she is 70. She has gotten a little "lumpy" from fat tumors and I know her life expectancy is only about 13 years.
Knowing all that. She is still a great dog. She is super well behaved. She can still run like a puppy (although she needs some coasting to get going). She still greets me every morning by my door, and sticks her head out the window when I leave. In her old age, she makes a great pillow when watching movies. And is still a great cuddler, no matter how much she sheds she still will always have space in my bed.
I've had other pets, fishes, guinea pigs, rabbits, etc. But Dainty has never been a pet, just another member of the family. Today, she got a bone and a play date/birthday party at the Hondo Dog Park. Pretty awesome birthday for a dog. And I can't wait to celebrate her golden birthday next year!