anne_mikolay_2012_120It's no secret I am a dog lover. Some might even consider me eccentric (I'm liable to acknowledge your dog before I greet you)! Dogs make me smile. I like corny sayings about canines like “The day God made dogs He just sat down and smiled” or “If my dog doesn't like you, chances are I won't either.” Yep, dogs rule! Therefore, I was honored and tickled pink when asked to judge a special essay contest about dogs.

Arden Townsend of Southampton, New jersey, founder and moderator of Dynamic Pups, a social networking site for dogs and their owners, recently sponsored a creative Thanksgiving essay contest giving a voice to dogs. Submissions, imaginatively written from the animal's perspective, had to answer the following question: “How did you (the dog) change your parent's life and why are you thankful for the life you have?”

The submissions I reviewed for Dynamic Pups were all original, emotional, and heart-warming; obviously, there are many, many fellow dog lovers out there who treasure their pets as members of their families. The winning piece perfectly captured the experience of a stray dog that found a loving, forever home, and I would like to share the essay with you. Written by Suzanne Tyler of Sumter, South Carolina, from the perspective of her beautiful dog, Tyler, I now give you “Tyler's Story:”

“My mommy has told me the meaning of Thanksgiving and why we celebrate that special day. I know to be thankful for all the blessings in my life but Thanksgiving weekend has an extra special meaning for me. You see, that is the weekend that I found my forever home.

I remember very little about my life before that fateful day. Mommy has helped me fill in some of the missing pieces, and as painful as they are, I will share them with you. According to Mommy, I lived with some people who were not very nice to me. They had no patience with a hyper puppy and tried to control me with force. I was hit and kicked when I did something undesirable. One day, a young girl came and took me home with her, but her parents said she couldn't keep me. She put me outside, and although she would play with me some, she couldn't feed me. After a while, because I got so hungry, I wandered away from her house. I was six months old and on my own. Alone, hungry, and scared, I just kept walking. One day, I walked into a yard where a young man was playing with a ball. I stopped and watched him. When he saw me, he put down the ball and called me to him. He was very nice with a gentle touch. But he didn't smell like food, and I was desperately hungry. A woman came out of the house and then a man. They all seemed happy to see me, but their enthusiasm scared me. I guess I misread their intentions, and I tried to run away. I didn't run far though because I smelled food! The woman was standing on the back porch with a plate of food. It was turkey and biscuits, and it smelled heavenly. I ate every morsel and licked the plate. These were very nice people with wonderful food. I could sense something in them that I never experienced before. It was love! They loved me!

Suzanne and Tyler

Mommy told me at first she felt she should try to find who I belonged to and not get attached to me. But she couldn't fool me, I knew from the start she loved me, and I loved her. For the first week, I slept on the back porch on comfy blankets, and Mommy and Daddy came outside to feed me and play with me. Unlike the other places I lived, they never forgot to feed me. I wasn't tied or fenced in, so I could have left any time I wanted to. I just didn't want to.

One morning, Mommy came outside and put a collar and leash on me. She put me in the car, and we went to a smelly place where there were other animals and people. A man poked at me and pinched me. I wasn't too thrilled about all that even though I got a treat after it was over. When Mommy and I got home, instead of leaving me outside, she brought me into the house. This made me very nervous because I had never been in a house before. It took me a few days to get used to the house and my new crate. But I knew I was loved, and for the first time in my young life, I had a home.

Mommy told me that I am her first dog. I am also her first "child". My mommy has never had human children. She never felt the maternal urge to "mother", but when I came into her life, that instinct "kicked in" in a huge way. Obviously, I am extremely grateful for her love and care, but she says she is grateful for the love and loyalty that I give her every day. She claims she is a better person because of me.”

Tyler, a dynamic pup.

I have no doubt Tyler made Suzanne a better person. How do I know? I just do. I have two dogs of my own (a sweet, little rescue and a hyper clown) that have made me a more caring, nurturing person. Through them, I have met fellow animal lovers that have enhanced my life in unexpected ways, one of which was judging the essay contest, a totally unexpected pleasure that once again showed me that giving love to a dog (or cat) in need is a higher calling from above.

Thank you, Arden, Suzanne, and other members of Dynamic Pups who shared their wonderful stories with me!

For more info about joining Dynamic Pups, where people “do the barking, and the pawrents do the typing,” log onto Membership is free!