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For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted a dog. I have fond memories of my childhood growing up around rabbits, cats, and fish. I always knew dogs would be a part of my family one day, it was just a matter of when. During my time in New York City, getting a dog never seemed right, considering I lived in an apartment, worked long hours, and always had places to be…it wasn’t the ideal situation for a dog.

When I moved to Florida, my lifestyle changed and becoming a dog owner began to seem more realistic. I was initially working from home and staying with family until I settled in to my own place. I had the time to raise and nurture a puppy. Finally I began my search and started checking animal shelter websites, researching different breeds, and striving to make a loving home for a pup. Although the breed didn’t really matter to me, I knew my allergies would come into play so I began to research hypoallergenic dogs and Cockapoos stood out to me. They are also known to be smart being that they are part poodle. My friends have a Cockapoo I adore named Sam and my former roommate had a Cocker Spaniel who I grew very fond of in college.

It all happened very quickly. It was the morning before we were on the way to Sarasota with my family for one of my Dad’s treatments when I happened upon a breeder website from Clearwater, Our Cockapoos. One of their female Cocker Spaniels, Sophie, just had a litter of puppies. I emailed the breeder asking if we could stop by as it so happened I would be in town and she wrote back within a few hours. We had an appointment set for the following day.

I fell in love with all of the puppies, but Maisy Mae was special simply because she cuddled into the crevice of my neck when I held her. Before I knew it, Maisy was coming home with me in just four weeks. Everything happened so seamlessly, and I knew it was meant to be. My Dad, who is very much a dog lover, was also very keen on having the puppy and urged me to reach out to the breeder that morning. I knew having a dog in the house at that time during his treatments would be good for him. My dad still tells me stories of his childhood dog, Lady. He was a paper boy in his neighborhood as a young boy and recalls riding home as fast as he could on his bike one day after his route was finished. He begged my grandparents to allow him to take one of the puppies home from the litter down the street. That same day he headed back to pick up Lady.

Having a dog in my life has certainly been a wonderful experience, even though training a puppy was more challenging than I imagined. I now have a responsibility for someone other than myself which is fulfilling and adds extra special meaning to my days. She’s made many dog friends in the neighborhood already, graduated from puppy class, and has moved on to intermediate class with her doggie classmates. She greets every human like her long lost friend and is happy all of the time. She has tons of energy and has even run a 5K race with me. I look forward to taking her to the dog park, dog beaches, and possibly training her to be a service dog in the future. She certainly lights up a room and brings a smile to every face she encounters.

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Although I’ve been in Florida for almost a year, I haven’t quite lost my New York City mentality. I’m not one for slowing down, but Maisy certainly helps. We take leisurely walks every morning and evening, sit outback on the lake while I do my writing, and take in the pretty scenery before us. She is a reminder of why I moved to Florida and forces me to stop and smell the roses.