Dogs. I love dogs. I always have - but my love grew exponentially when, at the age of eight, a new neighbour moved into a house down the street and brought with her a pack of Golden Retrievers and a recently born litter of pups. What absolutely stunning animals they were. For weeks I watched them through the chain-linked fence, and then she invited me in to play with them and handle the 3 week old scrunch-faced animals with care, and then (years later) she invited me to house and dog sit for her. And now her children are my godchildren (though this is really tangential to my love of dogs).
My own dog is blind and deaf, and aging rapidly (as is expected of animals you have loved for fourteen years), and I don't expect him to see another Christmas. But I love him too - there is nothing like sitting on the stairs of my house in the summer, with the light of the window beaming through the stained glass art that my father delicately constructed and dancing is shades of amber and gold on the hardwood floor below. I will sit there, read a book in one hand and pet him with the other. And he will lie - contented. For hours. I miss him more than anything else at home when I am away. He may actually be my best friend.