This is a typical picture from my childhood and amusingly enough, it holds true today more than thirty years later. I still rock a side braid, there is always a dog around, and my dad is always building something. He planned and built this house practically single-handedly, and we lived there until I went to college. We had five acres in rural southwestern Colorado and I grew up surrounded by animals and nature. I was an only child and our dog, Poppy - an Airedale-cattle dog mix - was my best friend. We would play outside all day long, hunting for crawdads or toads, building forts and playing hide and seek. Poppy was incredibly smart and I had no doubt that she understood most of what I said. I considered her my equal, my sibling, and I suppose it's no wonder that I refer to Ruby and Boca as sisters - primarily to one another but also, I think, to me. I have never known loneliness in the company of dogs.