Puppy Love 

Welcome to our first (annual?) issue devoted to our obsession with pets

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While everybody else is celebrating the impending Valentine's Day "holiday," this week Orlando Weekly celebrates pets. Traditionally, this is the issue in which we talk about love – we've printed reader-submitted Valentine messages and stories about sex and so forth. But romance is fleeing and complicated. We look back on way too many of our affairs and relationships and wonder WTF we were thinking when we let ourselves get sucked into them. It kind of makes the whole Valentine's Day thing seem a little … embarrassing.

But there's one relationship that many of us maintain that we don't regret – the one we have with our pets.

I went through half a dozen allegedly "serious" boyfriends in my 20s and 30s, and right now, I couldn't tell you where a single one of them live or what they're up to. When my mind wanders, my thoughts rarely drift to dwell on the time I spent with any of them – but it often drifts to think about my old dog, Reba, who was my constant companion from when I was 20 until I was 36, and who helped me navigate many a shitty, lonely Valentine's Day (not to mention many a crappy job, horrible apartment, sloppy drunken night, move from one state to another).

My life managed to go on without the of-the-moment loves of my life – but I often wonder whether I would have made it without the love and devotion of that dog, who kept me going and forgave me for all of my youthful stupidity. Even the one time I dated a guy who didn't really like dogs. What was I thinking?

Today, I am still stricken with puppy love. I share my life with three dogs – all boys, all rescued pit bulls or pit bull mixes, all of whom have done their part to keep me sane and loved. Even when I'm at my most unlovable.

In the following pages, we've gathered a handful of stories that celebrate pets – not just puppies, but also birds, opossums, tortoises and goats, among others, who mean the world to their owners. It's all puppy love to us.

Do you have an animal or animal story you want to share as part of our week of Puppy Love? Share it in the comments on our website at orlandoweekly.com or tell us about it on Facebook (facebook.com/orlandoweekly).

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