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Dogs mark time in our lives: when we were children, teenagers, and young adults going off to college, or perhaps when we were first married and having children. If you were lucky enough to have one, you will always remember a dog as part of your family. The memories of our pets conjure up specific details from times when our beloved companions were always there. When I think of Simon, my first dog as a grown-up, I see him playing in our backyard with my two young toddlers. I can picture my daughter’s curly auburn hair blowing in the summer breeze as Simon chased her, and I can hear my son’s laughter filling the air as he tried to keep up. Simon was their protector and my best friend. Every early family photo includes our first family dog. He inspired the deep love of animals felt by my children, who are now in their twenties, making special memories with dogs of their own.

This is a collection of true stories about the dogs of childhood and adulthood owned by myself, friends, and family. Thanks to all who shared their memories. Special thanks to Chris Iliades, my brother; his wife, Karen; and their children, Nick, Tina, and Corinne, along with Jenn, Nick’s wife, for sharing recollections of their pets, past and present.

This memoir focuses on pet stories with happy endings, which are sure to bring on a smile! Most of our pets were far from perfect, but all were very special. So cuddle up with your dog or cat (our family cats also make some appearances in this book) and get ready to reminisce about your own wonderful animals. I guarantee you will see a little bit of yourself and your pet in a story or two!