As I write this letter to you (and most likely as you’re reading it), an English Toy Terrier named Piper is snuggled up next to me, paws twitching in harmony with her slow, sleepy breaths. Her other notable position in life is racing across her farm at full speed, legs crossed beneath her, dust billowing up into the hot August air because my husband and I have likely given up on maintaining a manicured lawn. When I leave this heaven on earth, I want to return as Piper, and live all my days as vivaciously as she.

And that’s what our kids and pets teach us, isn’t it? To live. They have no logic for future events. It is only the here and now that interests them, which is why they sniff the air when a scent wafts by, or why they dig the hole even though you won’t be pleased. They go for it, the whole day, without sacrifice. 

Having a dozen or so animals was always in the cards for me. I wasn’t sure where the money would come from but I knew there would be animals, lots of them, to fill my days with the constant reminder of relentless love. Their presence in my life has taught me that the heart is ever-growing. There is always room for kindness, love, and warmth. As your family grows, so does your heart. 

I’m so thankful to live within such a fertile place for kids and pets. We, as a community, do a stellar job at teaching our young ones gratitude at an early age by just being thankful for living here. They see it on our faces and in our hearts. Our Missoula becomes their Missoula. As for our pets? They don’t care where they live so long as it’s with you. 

Here’s to the dog days of summer, spending quality time with your little ones before school starts back up and maybe taking the dog for ice cream even though it might be a melty mess!