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It’s Day Six of our #StoryPeopleWithLove contest featuring EXPRESSIONS OF LOVE! We’ve gotten stories about all kinds of love, & we’d be amiss not to feature one about pet love. Let’s just say you all love your four-legged friends (& that’s to put it mildly).

We’re starting to understand why Brian’s “dog prints” sell like hotcakes! & after you read Sonya Hudson’s story you might begin to get it, too! Take it away, Sonya:

“My expression of love is dedicated to my two soul mates: the first is a four-legged, furry, sweetheart; the second is my amazing, one-of-a-kind husband (two legs and a little less furry!). I’m convinced without the first love, I never would’ve opened up to the second. In 2009, my family experienced the unexpected loss of five family members in a 6-month period. At the time, I was the only person in my immediate family without a significant other.

It was during the funerals and days following I became aware of true loneliness. It was when I started observing, from the sidelines, my family with their Ioved ones. I felt so alone. I knew my family loved me and I had friends that did, too; however, my immediate humans, my in case of emergency contacts, no longer looked at me as their immediate. It felt as though everyone moved on, but I was stuck alone. That year was a season filled with sadness and loss.

Enter a new year: My life seemed to start over in 2010 when I adopted Liberty. I decided somewhat randomly that I was going to look into adopting a dog. Family and friends laughed at the mere thought of me with a dog. I had some germ phobias that kept them laughing for hours at a time – so the thought of a furry friend being my companion seemed far-fetched. Yet, one cold, snowy February day, I stopped into the local animal shelter. I did a quick walk through and there was one dog at the end of the first aisle who was looking at me expectantly, not barking while every other dog was barking wildly. I quickly decided she wasn’t exactly what I wanted.

When I left the shelter, I couldn’t stop thinking of this dog – so much so that I made an appointment to go back the next day. My mom drove me to the shelter, and when the volunteer brought the dog to me, I backed up almost shocked at her size outside of the kennel. My mom laughed and said, “This dog will be back here first thing Monday morning.” And when my mom dropped the dog and me off at home, leaving me alone with this creature, I remember thinking, “What am I to do with her now?”

Adopting Liberty was a big deal in so many ways. Family members stopped over to meet my girl; friends brought toys and treats. Everyone was very supportive, yet I still knew nothing about caring for a dog. Turns out, the dog was the best teacher. She taught me everything I needed to know – day by day. I don’t even remember the exact moment everything changed. Before I knew it, Liberty was crawling not only onto my sofa but also into my heart. Every moment we spent together was magical. She brought laughter to my life in massive amounts. She taught me patience, guidance, and love. This dog became my plus one. She was my other half and filled a part of my soul that was empty in ways I never knew. She never asked for anything in return for all that she gave. It wasn’t long until she was sleeping on the bed/furniture, going for long rides/walks, accompanying me everywhere. Liberty became my best friend. And just like that, all my fears and phobias disappeared.

We began obedience training, and Liberty later became a licensed therapy dog. I did anything and everything I knew we could do together. When I wasn’t working, it was safe to assume that wherever I was, whatever I was doing, she was with me. My life and heart were full. For the first time in my adult life, I was blissfully happy. If I had a bad day or a migraine or was sad, she wrapped her paws around my hand or gave me sweet kisses. She always, always made everything better (and still does). A few years after we started our journey together, Liberty developed major separation/anxiety issues that lead us down a frustrating path.

That was a season of lessons. Liberty was teaching me about the unconditional part of love. I never gave up on her, saw her through, and we came out stronger in the end. It’s safe to say I love this dog more than words can describe. She saved me. She loved me. She helped mold me into the person I am today (I’d like to think a little softer, kinder, more understanding). She healed every single broken piece in me, and because of her, I was able to open up to dating again.

Four years after I adopted Liberty, I met the man who would become husband. We were married in 2015 and my girl loves him, too – so much. Liberty was the dog-of-honor at our wedding and was even mentioned in our marriage vows: “If I can love you as unconditionally as I do Liberty, we will both be lucky!”

I apply everything I learned from her into my relationship with my husband. He came into my life as unexpectedly as Liberty did. He mended the broken pieces from the human aspect. And instead of feeling threatened about the bond I share with Liberty, he understands and loves her almost as much as I do.

We will be married three years this June. We apply the excitement to see each other the same way Liberty is excited to see us if we leave the room for five minutes. We apply her daily devotion and admiration and ability to not judge. This is what is so perfect about dogs: they just love and accept their human. And I am proud my marriage is strong and thriving because of the love, wisdom, and kindness of the best teacher I’ve ever had: Liberty Belle.”

To join the fun & for a chance to be featured on our social media sites & win a FREE pack of Valentine’s postcards, read more about #StoryPeopleWithLove here.

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