We Are Family

In 2008, my family rescued our first dog, a pug named Spike. Spike was mistreated in his old home and when my parents heard about his situation, they jumped to bring him in.

Spike served as a loyal companion to my family for 13 years and he was everyone’s best buddy. In 2020, Spike began to decline in his health.

My grandma at the time was also struggling with some health issues and was living alone.

She always loved keeping Spike for the weekend, so we asked her to watch him for a few weeks this time. Spike was pretty easy to take care of, he slept all day and just wanted to cuddle, which was the perfect situation for my grandma.

While Spike was away, I convinced my parents to adopt yet another puppy who needed a home. So in January of 2020, we brought home another pug, named Buddy.

Buddy was quite the opposite of Spike. He was spunky, energetic, stubborn, and sometimes a little feisty. After all, aren’t all puppies? But he was the cutest little guy and my family was in love.

We tried to introduce Spike and Buddy a few times, but Spike being so old in age, was not happy about having a crazy little brother. We decided it was best if Spike stayed permanently at my grandma’s for a while.

A few months later, Spike’s health went

downhill and he passed away. It was truly devastating for my parents and both of my younger brothers. My brothers were in high school at the time, and it was rare to see them cry, but Spike’s passing brought the tears. It showed me how much he meant to all of us. How much he changed our lives and brought us joy.

During a sad and tough time losing Spike, Buddy served as our joyful spirit. He made

the transition so much easier and gave us a new pup to show our love and affection to.

Living with Buddy was much different than Spike, but it was still just as special and sweet. Buddy was comical, with a goofy personality that made everyone laugh. He was sort of dopey and clumsy, often running into walls and people. He lit up the room with his joyful demeanor.

Fast-forward to March of 2021, a new addition was about to be added to our family. One that wasn’t expected, but definitely cherished.

In 2021, my brother Michael began to show signs of struggling with substance abuse. He was a junior in high school, with the stress of friendships, relationships, and college coming soon. He just didn’t know how to cope well with it all. My parents began to worry and decided that Michael needed more help than our family could provide for him. They searched around for rehabilitation programs, but there were none that piqued his interest or that seemed promising on paper.

Finally, my mom came across an all-boys program in

Arkansas that she thought would entice Michael to go.

The main focus of this program was using canine therapy to heal and teach responsibility to troubled teens. Michael was ecstatic. This meant he would get his own dog!

In March, when Michael arrived at the facility, he was given a brand new, black labrador puppy. He named him Kota. Kota would be Michael’s responsibility every day to take care of and in return, Kota would serve as an emotional support dog for Michael.

This program was life-changing for Michael, and so was Kota. Throughout the program, Kota served as Michael’s best friend and buddy to process the hard things in life. Michael was able to see Kota as a gift from God and a sign of His provision in his life. Kota gave Michael a sense of responsibility that taught him how capable he is to take care of himself and others with the right coping skills. Kota served as Michael’s motivation for healing and The Lord used him to bring Michael into the light of life again

While in Arkansas, Michael grew in his relationship with Kota, friends, and

God. He learned what it looked like to be cared for by a friend in a healthy relationship. He learned how to care

for himself in order to care for another. He learned that God loved Him just as he is, and wants the best for Him – to

be in a relationship with Himself. Because of all these things and by the grace of God, Michael decided to be baptized during his program.

After three months in Arkansas, Michaela and Kota returned home. It took some time for Kota to become acclimated to our family and our home. He was used to living

outside all the time and now living in the bustling city of Dallas, TX. He was still a puppy, who’d only been trained by a 17-year-old boy so far. He definitely had some work to

do, but we were ready to help.

As Michael got back into school and work, Kota was home alone more often. He was sad at times and needed a friend. This is where Buddy came in again. Buddy served as Kota’s brother, playmate, and friend in a time of hard change. The two slowly became best buds and began to love one another’s company. This made my family’s life much easier too, now having a playmate for each dog!

From Spike to Buddy, and from Buddy to now having Kota too – the transitions were tough at times. But the dogs and companions made it so worth it. No matter what we all faced and no matter what we go through, our dogs are God’s goodness in our lives. They are our family!

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