A few weeks ago, I got to meet a young and really happy Chihuahua named Sweetie for a story. In Angelia Goode’s fourth-grade class, Sweetie seems to be the class favorite. While math problems and numbers are the center of attention in her class, Sweetie is hanging in there really close.

When it comes to school, work and life, we all need a little nurturing break from from time to time. In the case of Belle-Shivers Middle School, Sweetie delivers. Teachers, administrators and other students have learned it just takes a short visit with her to make their days better.

Since that interview came a few days after the Hamilton tornado hit, I told Mrs. Goode it was probably going to be a little while before Sweetie’s story runs due to space restrictions. In this business, I’ve learned you can’t stop unexpected and pressing news from coming, and 2019 has sure been an unpredictable year so far.

News is news, and we don’t make it up. We’re just here to tell it as it is, whatever it is.

As long division made my fourth-grade head spin way back when, having to always be prepared to roll when breaking news pops off can sometimes make my 40-year-old head spin now.

I’ve got a really happy little Jack Russell Terrier helping me keep calm as things finally simmer down, and she’s hanging in near the center of attention at home. We all need that.

Some people are more into cats and if you saw our MC Kids magazine earlier this year, you know we have an office cat named Obit who offers up some daily de-stressing when we need it.

As we subliminally pushed in that magazine, there are plenty of great dogs and cats available for adoption at Monroe County’s local shelters just waiting to make your days better.

Throughout most of my life, there’s been a dog in it and as I’ve aged, I’ve realized more of their importance.

Growing up, there’s been a Liza, Mandy, Molly, Frick and Frack and countless other dogs between here and Prairie making my childhood mornings and afternoons more playful. With Jackie and Jill for 14 of the past 15 years, my pace was mostly slower than theirs and in the past 10, I can’t even keep up with Snickers.

For the neighborhood dogs, Max and Molly, it takes a lot of negotiating for them to calm down enough for a cordial visit.

My connection with dogs isn’t as much about a contest for who has more energy as it is how precious the time spent cuddling on a recliner is now. We all need that from time to time.

Sweetie’s current classmates have a little while to go before graduation, and she’ll still have plenty of energy tucked away when they put on those caps and gowns. She’ll have hundreds more fourth-grade students to help before then when the math problems don’t work out just right.

On some days and some weeks, work, school and life don’t work out just right. It’s the ones we surround ourselves with who make them better, and beloved pets doesn’t expect anything in return for everything they do except for maybe a few endearing pets and the occasional treats.

That’s true unconditional love like no other. I hope you have a beloved pet in your life making your stories and well-deserved sitdowns better.

Ray Van Dusen is the managing editor of the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at

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