I wasn’t always a “dog person.” In fact, most of my life, I was scared whenever one would approach me, especially larger breeds. But after my fiancé and I moved in together, and after I took a new job alongside die-hard animal lovers (especially one in particular – she knows who she is!), I quickly became convinced that maybe having my own little fur ball would be enjoyable. From then on, whenever we went to the mall, I would always beg to visit the pet store – just the sheer excitement of seeing puppies for a minute was enough to tell me to go for it; become a dog owner. I knew I wanted to adopt and improve the life of a homeless animal. I had no specific breed in mind, I just knew I wanted a small dog to carry around with me. While browsing Petfinder, I came across Hamlet. He was labeled as an 8-week-old “Dachshund mix” with a fair warning from the rescue organization that they weren’t completely sure of his breed, since his litter was abandoned at an overpopulated kill shelter. The organization paired him with a foster mom in Tennessee to keep him safe for the time being. I didn’t get a chance to meet him in person beforehand. I simply made an appointment and picked him up in a Connecticut parking lot at 3 in the morning. Hamlet, who we immediately renamed as Hammy because of how small and sweet he was, has become one of the best decisions of my life. He has now grown to be over 40 lbs., and he’s definitely not a Dachshund, but I wouldn’t trade him for anything in the world. Sure, he’s bigger than expected; his shyness has passed and he can sometimes bark very loudly; and there were a few potty training incidents and bitten shoes along the way. But he’s still the sweet fur baby that was handed to me in the dark parking lot. He makes me happy beyond words. After a long day at work, he is the first to greet me at the door, with a lick (also known to him as kisses) and a big tail wag. Seeing him so happy during his outdoor walks in the sun brings out a positive person in myself. And just watching my fiancé play, snuggle and take care of him makes me feel like I have everything I need right under my roof. I hope he never remembers the sadder, tougher times in his early life, and is always happy from here on out – it makes all the dog toys laying around the living room, chewed up dog blankets, and running around the house with him during his hyper hour all worth it. If you’re considering adopting a dog, or any pet, I recommend it 110 percent. It’s a complete leap of faith – I mean, I didn’t even meet Hammy beforehand – but the risk is almost always worth the reward. You will have yourself a life companion; a new best friend; a new-found life waiting for you each and every time you get home – lick and tail wag included.