About five years ago, my husband was out of work and transitioning from a traditional job in finance to a roller coaster career as an entrepreneur. At the time, he was under enormous pressure, not knowing whether his decision to leave the life he trained for behind to start a sports business for kids was the right thing to do, but he decided it was now or never and made the leap.

At the time, I was already on my sixth year of being out on my own and while the journey had its ups and downs, I liked the freedom of being my own boss while working with inspiring clients and challenging projects.

Throughout his life my husband had always been allergic to dogs. If we were around any dog – even a poodle who had hair instead of fur, he’d start sneezing uncontrollably and would have to leave the room. That totally bummed us out because my kids and I always wanted a dog but his allergies stood in our way.

After he no longer was working at that stressful job in finance, a strange thing happened. My husband stopped being allergic to dogs. Now that he no longer had a two hour commute to New Jersey, he agreed to consider adopting a dog and so we started to visit animal shelters to see how he’d fare around different breeds. No matter where we went, he didn’t sneeze and my kids and I were over the moon. That meant we were inching closer to finding the perfect pet.

A few weeks after we decided that we were open to adopting a dog, my son and I noticed a really cute puppy on PetFinder.com and decided to reach out and see if the dog was still available. While the first one we saw had been adopted, we found out that the puppy’s sister was still up for grabs. And so, our entire family headed into Manhattan where we picked up our puppy on a street corner from a representative at Happy Tails pet rescue and the rest as we know it was history.

Santana entered our lives right before Thanksgiving five years ago and honestly, it felt like she had saved us. Despite the anxiety my husband encountered with his new business, Santana was always there to provide unconditional love. The two bonded at the dog park and on long walks where he met fellow dog lovers who have now become lifelong friends.  Today, she waits patiently by the front window at the end of the night when she senses he’s on his way home.

Santana has also provided a source of support to me when I’m dealing with a difficult project or not having luck landing a media placement amidst all the negative news that’s circulating in our world. She sits patiently on the couch in our sunroom until I’m ready to take her out for a walk by the pond near our home. During those walks, I contemplate my purpose in life, sing songs from my iPhone call my mom or a close friend or take a photo of her trying to chase a flock of geese. Santana is my faithful companion and oftentimes will start whining if I’m spending way too much time on a conference call or on my computer. And she’s absolutely right. Life should be lived outdoors taking in the great outdoors. 

As for my kids, Santana has become a part of our family in ways we had never anticipated. When my daughter was having a rough patch in college, we drove to her school to pick her up and surprised her with Santana. She literally burst into tears when she saw her and hugged her tight as her tail wagged feverishly at the sight of seeing her. She then lay her head in my daughter’s lap the entire car ride home. 

We have also driven with Santana from New York to Florida twice and she’s even captured the heart of my dad who never let me have a dog growing up but somehow, really likes having Santana sit with him on the couch while he’s watching sports and yelling at the TV. If a dog can calm a grumpy Grandpa, there’s no telling what the power of a pooch can do.

There’s just something you can’t quite explain about the unconditional love that a dog brings to your life. When it comes to confronting life’s challenges, our dog has made me laugh when I was on the verge of tears and calmed me down when I was feeling like the stress was just getting too intense.

While Santana is not a licensed therapy dog, she has been the ultimate source of comfort and joy for our family. I am grateful that my husband miraculously kicked his pet allergy problem and we were able to adopt Santana when she was only a few weeks old.

While we may have rescued Santana, I truly believe she rescued us.