Breed: Chihuahua/poodle/terrier
Birthday: April, 13th 2003
Eye color: light brown
Favorite food: anything that she can get her paws on
Favorite thing to do: follow me around
Location : Brownsville, Texas

This is the story of Annie and Jodie . I thank Annie Castaneda for submitting this story that brought me to tears and I'm sure that it will touch your hearts too. Enjoy!

I never knew that an animal can change your life forever. I just thought that's what they were, animals. Nothing special, no special attention needed and no feelings. Feed them, give them water and that's all there is to it. Boy, was I totally wrong and I'm glad that Jodie made me realize it. I guess every owner has that one special pet that has made a difference in their lives but Jodie taught me a lesson I will never forget and will always hold dear to my heart.

Jodie was in a litter of 2 from my mom's dog Belle. I had to choose between her and another female who was all black. But Jodie had those light brown, wide, full of life and sunshine puppy dog eyes that just made my decision easier and after 6 weeks I finally took her home. At that time another event was happening in my life. I was 18 and my parents were in the middle of a divorce and I was left alone to fend for myself so to speak. Of course, my dad would check in on me, food, bills etc. My mom calling to see if I was OK. I didn't mind. I was 18! Party! Party! Party! That's all I thought about and Jodie was just there to keep me company. So, as the days and weeks passed and Jodie was growing out of puppy hood I thought, 'She's a dog, she doesn't need me around. I'll just feed her, give her a few pats on the head and I'm out the door.' I didn't know how wrong I was. I didn't know that when I came home from a drunken stupor, or from wherever I was she was there wagging her tail excited to see me and I just pushed her aside. Nothing was important to me than having my night out on the town and all those parties. As more days and weeks passed and as she continued to grow and as I came and went as I pleased I started noticing how she wasn't at the door anymore. How she was no longer excited to see me. How she didn't want to eat anymore. How she never wagged her tail as I went to pat her head. Instead, I would always find her in my closet laying in a laundry basket of my clothes. I grew a little concerned thinking she might be physically sick but of course I ignored it and told myself, 'She's a dog and nothing more; she'll be fine because dogs are survivors.' But she kept getting worse. She grew thin and those light brown eyes that I fell for no longer shined. Then it hit me; she's depressed and slowly becoming frail of a broken heart. This creature, this animal, this dog that I took in and ignored for weeks loved me and depended on me. She can feel, she can understand what I'm doing and where I'm going and when I'm leaving and what I'm saying. She has no voice, she cannot speak; she cannot tell me her feelings but somehow she knows! But she's just a dog, how can she sense that something is wrong?

That was the day that changed my life forever. So, with tears in my eyes and 100 apologies and a million kisses and hugs knowing that she understood everything that I was saying I vowed to her and myself I was gonna spend the rest of my life and hers seeing that she never gets broken again. As the weeks passed and the party invites denied I spent everyday with her giving her as much love as one can give. I know she forgave me and my naivety because all the love that was once lost was returned. She never gave up on me, she never succumbed to her depression. I know in my heart she had hope for me that one day I would realize how cruel and stupid I've been and she would be waiting with an open heart and her tail wagging.

She is now 12 years old and I am now 30. She's slowly losing her teeth and she has arthritis and her skin is sagging. And even though we've had 2 more additions to the family; Charlie and Molly I still give her the attention that she needs, no, that she deserves. I spoil her and I talk to her and I give her so many hugs and kisses and belly rubs that I am allowed to and trust me she never complains! She sleeps with me every night snoring away happily and the times when I can't feel her against my body I bring her in close to me to feel her warmth, her beating heart . She nestles her head against my face with so much love that I can't help but smile everytime. She follows me everywhere, always keeping me in her line of sight making sure I'm OK. Whenever I sneeze or cough she hurries to my side and licks my face as if saying ' You'll be fine! I'm here!' She is my treasure, my jewel, my everything.

As she's getting old in age and even a little grumpier I can't help but wonder, what am I going to do without her? Will I ever feel the same about other dogs that will come and go in my life? Will she remember me after she's gone? Will she still love me?' I don't have the answers and probably never will but I do know this: she will always have my heart and soul and as long as she lives I will keep my vow to her. Because that day that I didn't care about anyone or anything but myself she taught me how to love and how to forgive unconditionally.
I just pray that people out there know or learn that these animals are not just animals. They are gifts from God to be more than our companions, to be more than friends. They are our family, our children and as much love and forgiveness that they have shown us no matter what cruelty is done to them we need to show them that they are not alone.
I thank God for Jodie everyday and I thank her for loving me and all my flaws and never losing her hope and faith in me. And when that day comes when she leaves this world, I hope she knows that I will be right by her side and she will never be alone again. My baby, my little girl; thank you.