By Nicole Olivera
Before I start getting all mushy about my favorite animal on the planet, I figured I would introduce myself. Hi! I’m Nicole and I typically hide behind the computer and camera at The Pet Loss Center. I’ve been working in the pet loss industry for over a decade and I literally grew up at our Miami location. I’ve had dozens of dogs, cats, hamsters, fish…you name it! The one thing I never had though, was a Dante. I didn’t meet the dog that would change my life forever until 2005, when I was 19 and he was a mere 8 weeks old.
At the time Dante came into my life, I lived in California, which was about 3,000 miles away from everything and everyone I loved. From the moment I saw him, I knew he was mine. He had crystal blue eyes and the cutest pudgy belly I had ever seen! He had spunk that I never knew a dog could have and was more hard headed than I was…which I didn’t think was possible.
He was wild. He hopped around like a bunny when he was happy and it took me a good 2.5 years to potty train him…YES, 2.5 years! I told you he was a hard head! Because he is a bulldog, I wanted to make sure he was well behaved so I took him to obedience classes a couple times a week. On top of making sure I had a well-mannered pup, I wanted to make sure he was friendly with anyone and everything he came into contact with, so I took him EVERYWHERE. Dog parks, hotels, stores, the beach, and friends’ houses. Where ever I was, Dante was right by my side.
Fast forward a couple of years and we took the road trip of a lifetime together back to the Sunshine State! We’ve been here ever since, but not much has changed. He’s still by my side every step of the way. We’ve been on vacations together, we’ve moved from house to house together, we survived my twenties together, and he even has two little human brothers now! He’s gone from a spunky pup with endless energy, to a grumpy old man who loves to pretend he’s completely deaf…until he hears you pour food into his bowl.
He has taught me patience (which was great preparation for having a toddler) and unconditional love. He has been with me through every smile and every tear for the last 13 years. We’ve grown up together. The grey in his face and his cloudy eyes hold over a decade of adventures and it has been an absolute honor and privilege to spend this time with him. He has most definitely had the greatest influence on me and I will treasure our time together forever.