It’s National Puppy Day! I love these national days that celebrate our canine kids and showcase all the greatness that comes with sharing your life with a four-legged family member. In honor of this day, I thought it’s appropriate to share how I ended up spending my life with my three beautiful kids.

Izzy: My first born baby came into my life over seven years ago. I had graduated college and was searching for a dog at various shelters around Chicago. Everything I was doing was not working out. One day, I thought I had found the perfect dog only to bring my boyfriend (now husband) back to meet the dog at the shelter, and I saw the dog walking out with another adopter. I gave my search a rest for a bit.

A couple of weeks later I found myself visiting my mom’s house in the suburbs. Our neighbor growing up runs a dog boarding and grooming facility and often had dogs looking for a home. I said to my mom, let’s just stop by there. We drove over, and they had two puppies looking for a home, one black and one golden lab mix. The black pup ran up to me, and I immediately picked her up and said, “She’s the one.” Our neighbor said he knew she’d have a great home with me, so I should take her home! I didn’t hesitate or think twice because I knew this was it.

Izzy has been through eight apartment moves, deaths of family members, break-ups, getting back together, engagement, wedding, new jobs, buying a house and everything else in between. We travel together, volunteer together, shop together, play together. She is my best friend and has been my lifeline when things get rough.

Hudson: A few years ago I ran an animal rescue and rehabilitation center. When you work at an animal shelter, you never know what the day might bring. The day I met Hudson was one of those days. I was called over to the shelter’s neighboring veterinary center because an “unpredictable” dog needed to be dropped off, or he could be euthanized.

I walked over to meet this “unpredictable” dog. I was greeted by a black bulldog/lab mix wagging his tail feverishly at me, and a couple who was in tears. They bought this dog from a pet store, and he was now five-months-old. He was too much for them and would hide from their kids and was showing some resource guarding. They were at the end of their rope, and the dog needed to go. I didn’t want to judge them, or make them feel bad for something they already felt terrible about. So I took the leash of this big brown eyed puppy and said, we will figure this out with him. They were grateful, crying, and left.

Hudson spent two nights in the kennels at the rescue and rehabilitation center before I took him home. He never left once I brought him home. What was “unpredictable” behavior was an unconfident five-month-old puppy who had come from a puppy mill in Iowa, was brought to a pet store in Illinois, and purchased as a ‘Bullador’. The family who only saw a cute puppy, and not the two dominant and protective breeds of a Labrador and American Bulldog from a puppy mill, learned a hard lesson. That family has since adopted two dogs from a shelter that are perfect for them. That was six years ago.

Hudson loves his life and lives amicably with his two sisters and gets along fantastic with his cousins. He just needed the right home to understand him, and he fits in perfect with us.

Mylah: While still working for the same rescue and rehabilitation center, I went to animal control to pull some dogs into the center’s program. I had loaded up the van with the five dogs we had committed to rescuing that day. An animal control officer begged me to go to the last pavilion at the shelter to look at a confiscated mom and her puppies from a dog fighting and breeding operation. When I got back there, I saw a small, emaciated gray “pit bull” type dog and her four-week-old skinny babies with worm filled bellies. An employee who had marked ‘E’ on their cage card looked at me and said, “Are you taking them; otherwise, I am euthanizing them.”

I brought mom and puppies to the vet where they would stay until the pups were eight-weeks-old and ready to be separated from their mom. Once they were of age, we began the search for their forever homes. I brought the pups to an adoption event in the weeks following and could not stop snuggling with the runt of the litter. I decided to bring her home following the adoption event. She never left. In the next few weeks, all her siblings and mom were adopted by families as well.

At 10-months-old, our beautiful new puppy had a horrible night. She was up all night crying for water and urinating constantly. We took her to the vet asap, and they diagnosed Mylah with diabetes. Our lives and our baby’s life was changed forever from that day forward. She is five-years-old now, and though we’ve had our share of major issues and scary moments with her, we wouldn’t give up on her for anything.

You can read Mylah’s full story here and Hudson’s here.