I’ve wanted a puppy my whole life. As a 3-year old, I introduced myself to every dog at the local concert in the park.

I started walking dogs when I was 13. I knew all the dogs at the local dog park and got quite a few referrals by word of mouth. All I said was: Who’s the best dog? And each dog would say: “Me! Me!” in barks.

My parents were not able to have a dog at home because of allergies and older cats. As a result, when I moved into my first apartment, I started obsessing over the type of dog I wanted. My mother advised me to get a “used dog”–one who was already potty trained. There are lots of dogs who became orphans because of the bad economy  and needed a good home. But I really wanted a young dog–someone I could train, love, and grow from the beginning.I found Beau at the Silicon Valley Humane Society. It was love at first sight. I had been scouting the shelter for weeks, looking for just the right dog.

We grew up together. I had never been solely responsible for a pet. Beau’s needs were fairly intuitive; he was hungry, needed to be played with, needed to go out–all things I could cope with.  At first, I worried about leaving him alone even for an hour. But school started and he was okay being on his own. I installed a nest camera so I could keep an eye on him. School was only 6 blocks away, but I worried like any new parent would.

Eventually, I even trusted my boyfriend and parents to take care of him. I wrote instructions and metered out food in baggies. I scoured the web for the best practices for raising a good dog. We went to obedience school We went to puppy socials in the park.

I learned so much about Beau, and myself, through growing this pup. I learned how to nurture. I learned how much love and fun a small animal could give, and how much I could give back. I learned to anticipate his needs. I am fiercely protective of him. All of this has made me more aware of my own needs. I take better care of myself. Even though I have lived on my own for almost 3 years, I learned better life skills to keep this wonderful puppy happy.