Through The Good And The Bad ~ A Guest Post by Vanessa Guzman

Winnie came into my life in late 2009 as a surprise gift. She was so small and helpless, affectionate, and tender that as soon as I held her in my arms, I fell in love with her. Being a Labrador, she was always playful when she was little, she chewed our shoes and destroyed everything she found. Thankfully, that lasted only a few months.

We decided to train her to be obedient and alert in preparation for any unforeseen circumstance or in the event an intruder should enter the home. Being protective by nature, she became jealous of everyone who would come very close to us, and although she was never aggressive, she always "marked her territory" to make it clear that "she was the queen of the home and we belonged to her."

Over time, she became more sociable and gained popularity with the other dogs at the park. Honestly, she would make me laugh when I saw how she liked to run around and play and yet knew when it was time to go home as soon as she got bored. Winnie learned many things, amongst them crossing her front paws elegantly like a "lady".

As she grew, I was amazed by her intelligence, especially her auditory perception. I remember that in difficult moments of my life when I was very sad and would cry into my pillow, she would stand at the door to my room and whined in sympathy along with me because she knew something was wrong. Honestly, at that point, I didn't know who would be crying the most, her or me, so in the end, I would end up laughing, and open the door for her so she could come in to be with me, and the sadness would leave quickly upon seeing her joy and sweetness. Winnie loved when I would scratch behind her ears, as she relaxed in my arms.

A few years later when my niece was born, Winnie’s hearing grew sharper, so much so that when the baby woke up and cried, she would come running, barking to get our attention and we quickly learned to realize it was her way of informing us that the baby had woken up.

I remember one day that when the baby started walking and was about to go down the stairs on her own, Winnie barked loudly, causing us to realize what was going on so we could remove the baby from danger. From then on, my little niece loved Winnie more, so much so that every time I returned from work and took the dog out to the park, my niece would quickly run out to join us.

After almost 11 years of having Winnie, I can see that her love and affection have not changed, they remain unconditional. Currently, Winnie does not live with me, as I had to move and the place where I live now does not allow pets. She lives with a family member and every time when I visit her, she greets me with the same joy and exuberance as always.

I can definitely say that a dog is a faithful companion for life, innocent and with a highly developed intelligence. They can so clearly perceive danger, the emotions of their owners, and even manipulate us a little to quickly forgive them when they misbehave!

Once they steal your heart, it is very difficult not to love them and to allow ourselves to be loved by them in return.