My dogs are without a doubt my best friends. Some people understand where I’m coming from with that statement and I’m sure others are just shaking their heads. It’s impossible for me not to be close to my dogs, because they are with me all the time and are so loyal to me.

My husband and I adopted our first dog, Bugs a German Shorthair, from the animal shelter about two and a half years ago. I was so excited to have a “friend” around, because my husband farms and is gone all the time and I was the new person in town. Bugs instantly became my best friend. She would cuddle up with me and watch TV, lay her head on my lap when I was sad, and provide hours of entertainment. She became something for me to take care of instead of just worrying about myself.

About six months later we bought a Chocolate Lab who we named Jax. Jax was a little harder to deal with at first because he was a puppy and was not already trained like Bugs when we got her. I even had moments when I didn’t think I could keep Jax around because I was tired of potty training him. I am so glad that thought went out of my mind, because Jax is one of the best dogs I know. He loves being around people, needs constant attention, and is such a smart dog.

Since I am so close to my dogs, I cannot understand how people mistreat their animals. It breaks my heart reading stories about dogs being abused, or left out in the cold/heat or tied up on a chain all the time. Dogs live to please their masters. They have feelings and emotions just like people. No, they cannot vocally tell us how they feel, but I know without a doubt that dogs get sad when they never get any attention and they are happy when their owners spend time with them.

These two dogs have been my shoulder to cry on, kept me company when no one else was around, and have always been there for me. I know that at the end of the day these dogs will be unbelievably excited to see me. They are such loyal companions and only want to make me happy. I have become so attached to my dogs over the years, making them become more than just pets. They are a part of our family and they are treated as part of the family.

Erica Turner

I recently married my husband, Tyler, on May 30. We live in Western Nebraska and have two energetic dogs, Bugs (German Shorthair) and Jax (Chocolate Lab). I am the 5th and 6th grade English teacher at Perkins County Elementary and am getting ready to start my first year as head coach for the Perkins County High School volleyball team. I stay busy helping on the farm (well, more like driving the guys from field to field), playing in women's golf league, and just being outside.