I didn't grow up with dogs as pets. We had cats. Cats are pretty awesome from a self-sufficiency point of view. Sure, they can be cuddly, if they're in the mood, but the best part about cats is that they're low maintenance. About ten years ago, my husband found an abandoned German Shepherd pup and after an extensive search for it's owners, it became clear that she was ours if we wanted her. I have to tell you- I was so leery about it. I love to travel and I was pretty concerned that it would seriously affect our ability to get up and go whenever we wanted. It wasn't even too much of a discussion, though. By that time, I had fallen in love and Abby was ours. As she grew, I realized that dogs are so much more than pets. Take this family's adorable shelter pup... he was completely cool with me, so long as I realized that these were his kids and I wasn't going to be getting any closer than five feet, especially when it came to his sweet girl. It's funny when I look through these pictures because you can definitely tell when I was moving closer to get a shot- check out the healthy dose of side eye that he's giving me. It struck me that this is a genius parenting move- nobody gets between this guy and his family without mom and dad's ok (well, maybe not even then, lol!). I never thought I'd want a dog and now I know we'll never live without one.