EMILY: Lessons from My 'Furry Family'

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If you were to ask me what my prize possession is, I would have to respond with my family. Family is and will always be one of the most important things to me. From day one, my family has been my backbone, my support system and ultimately my biggest fans. I have been blessed with incredible parents, an amazing brother and a loving extended family. I was also lucky enough to have multiple other families throughout my life whether it be my Jets Flight Crew family, my friends that have become like family, and last but not least my "furry family" — my pets.

My furry family consists of rescued animals from local shelters near me. I have a 10-year-old German shepherd named Hera and a 2-year-old tortoiseshell cat named Lorelei. These additions to my family have been the best decisions I could've made. Both are always playful and happy to see me. But the best part of having them is the life lessons they've taught me.

So what has my "furry family" taught me?

To be positive, and do what makes you happy. Both of my pets are always fun-spirited and ready to play. There is never a dull moment when you are in the company of my pets. Even today, Hera teaches me new things all the time, especially how the phrase "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" is untrue and you should always be trying new things and going after what makes you happy.

Doing things for others ultimately makes you a better person. Adopting an animal from a shelter is giving new hope, it's changing the life of this animal for the better, but in the end it changes you. After we adopted both Hera and Lorelei, I learned responsibility like you could never learn without having to care for a pet on your own. The title "man's best friend" definitely holds true — they are by far the most precious gifts I have ever received.

Unconditional love and forgiveness. Yes, my brother and I had unconditional love and support from our parents our entire lives, but a pet's love is just different. They never stop giving you affection no matter how bad your day at work was, and even on your worst days they make sure to cheer you up with a big kiss and lots of cuddles. They truly forgive you no matter what.

My pets are a blessing and have made my family just a little bit larger but definitely a whole lot better. They've taught me many life lessons that are irreplaceable. You have to remember that pets are only here on earth for a short while because they already know the meaning of life and are really only put on earth to teach us humans what it's all about.

—Emily

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