Either you're an animal person or you're not.
You either don't mind the extra work a pet takes or you do.
The extra finances, not just the extra time out of your day.
It's a yes or no question.
And I'm a yes.
In fact, I can honestly say, I like animals more than people.
My husband calls me Dr. Doolittle.
The animals and I can just communicate really well.
I don't recall having some "it" moment as a child that made fur and paws a must for me.
I've always had a pet in my life.
I was that kid who wanted to pet or pick up anything fuzzy.
My own children are the same way.
I wanted to take care of every creature I came across.
I would occasionally find a stray dog and put it in my family's garage only to find out later it lived two blocks over.
My parents always had a dog when I was growing up.
The dog we had the longest was a peekapoo named Puggy.
She was 10 pounds of black moppy fur and by far, the dumbest dog that ever lived.
But, she would let me dress her up and put barrettes in her hair.
Our family got her as a puppy when I was 3 and she lived until I was 20 and in college.
My parents buried her in their backyard after my mom and brother and I took her to the vet to be put to sleep.
And we always had a cat.
Bonkers was around the longest.
A great looking black and white guy who disappeared a few weeks after his friend Puggy died.
I always just figured he went looking for her.
I had cats in college.
He hated me.
Then I got him a friend.
She loved me.
When I moved to Chicago I had Jack and Molly and then decided to get a puppy.
Madison he was named.
My roommate Bill and I raised him.
Madison met many future boyfriends of mine.
And ultimately clicked best with the man who would become my husband.
Madison was essentially my first child.
He went everywhere with me.
He had play dates with dog friends, mostly Elwood and Petey.
He was the most obedient dog I've ever seen.
If I walked with him to the store, I could leave him unleashed outside of the 7-Eleven and he would calmly sit there and wait for me to return.
Sometimes he would walk to the door and stare in, wondering what was taking me so long.
But if someone walked around him and opened the door, he would just quietly move over, let them enter, then go back to looking in the door.
I always said he was a little boy who dressed in dog clothes.
If we had lived in Paris he could have ridden the subway with me.
He only got to do that once, though.
In Chicago where he was raised.
He took a ride on the El.
He was then small enough to fit into a carrier.
He was the greatest.
End of story.
He was also Zoe's first friend.
And they were best friends.
He was with her when she got sick.
But at that point in his life, he was having his own struggle to stay alive.
We watched him go downhill as we tried to keep our daughter on an uphill path.
His back legs stopped working.
We had to take him to the emergency vet.
This was a doctor we hadn't seen before and he saw the struggle we were going through with our elderly dog and his best friend who had cancer.
"No charge" he said.
I'll never forget that.
Madison only lasted a few more weeks.
We came home from a doctor appointment with our weak and chemo-filled 6 year old daughter and he couldn't hang on anymore.
He couldn't get up.
He had had an accident in the house and had fallen in it.
He tried to bite me when I went to help him.
He was in pain.
We had to say goodbye.
We had tried and tried to keep him alive.
Because Zoe needed him alive.
But even she knew it was time to let him go.
Her first best friend.
Our family's best friend.
My first child.
I wrapped him in his blanket that he had had since he was a pup.
Zoe walked up to him before he left our home one last time.
He licked her face when she said her final goodbye.
He was with me for 15 1/2 years.
And I miss him every single day.
Part 1 in a series titled "Pets" I'll be doing.