One cold night on the streets of Scranton, Pennsylvania, me and my husband make our way home from a college party. Of course, at this point he is my boyfriend. The streets of Scranton are packed with the usual cast of characters. Yes, the town of Scranton really is as eccentric as the television show, The Office depicts.

The cold familiar to the mountainous region, has us huddling close together as we walk. We are feet away from the street corner when suddenly my husband races to my right side and pushes me slightly to the left. In his frenzy, I notice a gorgeous, regal, Doberman and his owner in front of us.

“Oh my gosh,” I proclaim in absolute shock. “Did you just dart to the other side and put me on the direct side of the dog?”

“Yes,” he responds shamelessly.

I laugh and pass the black and tan supposed threat. Since the time I am fourteen I have worked at a kennel affiliated with a veterinary hospital. It is how I am paying my way through college. I have no fear of animals and I am wise enough to know that many of the breeds that people fear are gentle giants. So I shrug this event off. It is meaningless to me.

The truth is looking back it was one huge, gigantic, enormous, metaphorical red flag. It is foreshadowing who will ultimately always come first in our relationship.

As a child, my family had two dogs, a cat, and various, horses, birds, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, etc. I grew up in what at that time, was considered rural country just twenty minutes outside of metropolitan, Washington, D.C. Therefore, it is somewhat inconceivable that I married a man who didn’t like animals, let alone dogs. I had dreams of living on a gentleman’s farm as an adult. Instead, I marry someone who won’t allow me to get a dog until we are married six years and have children. In his defense, he does like puppies. Just not once they grow up. Not even the ones that lived (a golden retriever and a chocolate lab) in our own house.

I am restting against my pillow. It is late night. I am typing column notes into my phone. My chocolate lab, Hazel is smooshed, comfortably into a ball at the foot of my bed.

Hazel is my new litmus test. I will no longer be drawn to anyone who doesn’t like animals, let alone dogs.

I turn off the light. Hazel lifts her head with my movement. She contently slumbers back to sleep.

I have my dog. She is loving, selfless and relentlessly, loyal with absolutely no intention of leaving me.
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