I have always been a person who adores kids. Growing up the second oldest of ten children, taking care of younger siblings sort of came with the territory, and I loved every part of it. That love of children continued in college as I chose a profession where I could work with kids daily and became an elementary school teacher and later middle school teacher. 

Kids have a way of making what’s really important in life very clear. They generally say what they mean without having that adult filter, their imaginations and creativity are endless and their sense of wonder is refreshing. As those adolescent years turn to teenaged years, they begin to formulate their world-view and make sense of the things around them. They start to make decisions on what they want to stand for and what they want to contribute to the world around them. It is also a tough time of insecurities, emotions and trying to figure out who they are. 

Like all families, my own four children are all so different from each other. They each have unique gifts and struggles. Something beneficial and somewhat unexpected to me has been watching how much of an impact having a family pet has made on my children. I knew it would help them learn responsibility, but I have been surprised by some of the other ways that the addition of our trusted dog, Stella, has made on their lives.  

She has been the perfect companion for them. She is a source of comfort when hard times or loss has occurred, big or small, as I have watched as my kids were soothed by being able to hug it out with their dog without having to say a word.  Stella is a tolerant playmate to my youngest, sleeps outside their doors at night in protection mode, and is willing to personally clean up any mess they may make when eating (especially bacon) so they don’t have to clean it up. 

 

Just like each of my children, there are so many reasons why welcoming a dog to the mix of our family has been rewarding, and it far outweighs any frustration she causes when she decides to be mischievous. 

This issue is dedicated to kids and pets. We wanted to share a sampling of art, fashion, décor, local hotspots for animal lovers and ways to give back to your community. We had so much fun putting this issue together. Enjoy!