When I moved back to the USA from living overseas for 7 years, I was really lost. It was a shocking cultural transition that I was not prepared for. It took me a long time to "become American" again.
I lived with my sister, who had just bought a house before the market crashed. My rent helped her out, but it was a 1-bed 1-bath house, so I lived in the back yard in the "barn". Which I renovated into a nice little loft space. (But no bathroom.)
I quickly burned through my savings. 10 years of savings for Hungary was about a year's salary for a secretary here in Seattle. That went fast.
I couldn't get a job because I had no recent US experience. I was "at sea", as they say.
My sister and I wound up getting a dog. A black lab, shepherd, husky mix about 5 months old. The owner had a sudden job change and needed the dog to go to someone who was going to be around (she was moving to Arizona for a traveling sales job).
After some initial confusion about our roles, my sister became "Auntie" and I became "Dad" to our girl, Layna.
From Day 1 she listened to me. I never ordered her around. I just talked to her like you would to another person. And she understood.
She came everywhere with me, even when I got a job, she was welcome at my series of dog-friendly workplaces. As I built my new life in America, went through jobs and relationships, it was always Layna and I together. She was my partner and my friend throughout the most significant changes I had ever gone through in my life.
She was much more of a "person" than a dog.
When I'd go to the coffee shop, I'd tell her to wait outside. And no matter how long I was inside, she'd still be waiting in the same spot for me when I came out.
She was brilliant with kids, cats, and other dogs. Never got in a single fight. Never bit anyone. Had that Labrador "soft mouth" and would gently take food; not snatch it.
When we would go someplace, like a house party, I'd walk her around the edge of the yard and tell her this was as far as she could go. She would understand and self-regulate, and stay in the yard, no matter the distractions that passed on the sidewalk, etc.
Her sweet eyes told people that she wasn't dangerous - despite being a big black 70-pound dog - and kids immediately took to her.
She was just as good with my wife, too. Completely voice-controlled, we only used a leash when other people were worried.
She was my daily companion for 15 years and 3 months, and died on June 14th. Surrounded by friends and family, on her favorite bed, in her favorite spot in the back yard under our Douglas Fir tree.
My wife and I have never known each other without Layna, and our lives have changed now. We are sad, but we also knew she lived a very long and very happy life, and she told us when it was time to go, and we let her go.
(That would've been a photo of her, but I can't be fucked to figure out what stupid stunts I need to do to make it show up. So click it. She was beautiful.)