My Only Friends by Sarah Payne

If It Weren’t For Fido Essay Contest Grand Prize Winner

Today, BestBullySticks is proud to share with you our Grand Prize winning “If It Weren’t For Fido” essay.  When we read Sarah Payne’s story around our offices, we were all reminded of the ways dogs truly transform our lives. We know you’ll enjoy reading Sarah’s story. 


Some folks just seem to know how to be humans. I think I was standing behind the door when that was being handed out. I miss a lot of the cues of what people mean beyond what they say and it makes it difficult to find friends. That’s a lonely way to live. I’ve been lucky, I met a man that some how gets me but that doesn’t help me to understand things better. Even as a child, my only friends were animals in general and dogs in particular. I remember many family get togethers where I ended up alone in a corner or basement with my aunt’s dogs. It sounds lonely but I fit better with them.

As an adult, my husband and I have always had dogs. We have rescued any critter needing a home from three legged hamsters to crazy cats to abused bulldogs. We’ve never had a home without a dog. It makes me feel more at ease and I love the larger breeds. When I come home to a wagging tail it some how makes the day in the human world easier. I might be awkward out there but home with a dog snuggled beside me it feels okay that I’ve always had trouble connecting to people.

We had planned to have children. That’s what people do. We grow up, fall in love, get married, have kids, look forward to grandkids. I think a part of me has always hoped that if I had a child that I’d some how find I could understand people better. That maybe, somehow, by watching my child grow up and learn how to navigate the big, wide, world I’d learn too. I could see my husband, my kids and the dogs playing in the yard and it seemed like a good dream.


Things don’t always work out that way. I learned I have a genetic defect that causes my joints to slip out of place. It’s not fatal, just painful and limiting. There is a 50% chance of any child I have getting this same issue. There is a 100% that pregnancy would cause lasting, painful, damage to me. My husband loves me and instantly said he didn’t want kids if there was such a risk of harm to me. That made me cry. Not just because of how much he loves me but because I knew it was the right thing and the dream of kids and dogs and us in a yard wouldn’t happen.

While I cried one day, the husband said I was being silly. He said we’d get a small dog. Now, I’d already given up the idea of larger dogs. I love bully breeds and had hoped to rescue a pit bull or a pit mix or something of the sort. As my joints got worse, the strength of such breeds became too much. We’d switched from bully dogs to dachshunds, the breed my husband grew up with. They are a ton of dog in smallish bodies! Our house was filled with the wiggling of dogs that look like caterpillars. One is a boy that had spent his first 11 months of life in a crate, another came to us with cracked back teeth from a suspected kick and old burn marks. They make our house a home. But a toy dog? A small dog? I had dreams of wolfhounds and while I was crying he was suggesting something that could fit on a dinner plate.

I kept an open mind and shortly there after I found Charlie. He’s a 5lb bundle of love in a fur-suit. He’s a Chihuahua, not a long one but a short legged, round bodied one. He snuggles against me and is never from my side. At work he’s the one everyone holds when they’ve had a bad day. He is my first born child. He turned 3 a few days ago and my life has been better since he came into it. He sleeps with his head on my pillow and if I sleep on my side facing him, I place a hand over his side and he sighs happily and rolls onto his back to fall asleep while my hand rests over his heart.

After Charlie I found Violet. She is more of a typical Chihuahua. While Charlie was calm and eager to learn tricks, Violet was more like the bully breeds I missed. She’s stubborn and silly, high strung and adoring. She runs full speed to leap in my arms knowing I’ll catch her. She’s my princess and when I’m having a bad pain day and cry in frustration she rushes over to paw at my face and lick at my tears. Her favorite toy is any stink bug that dares to come into our house. She’ll leap on them, roll on them, pick them up and spit them out all with a devilish grin on her face.

Last week we added the third and final child to our home. Gus is tiny. While his sibling Chihuahuas are 5lbs, he’s 18 ozs at 14 weeks. He’ll only be about 2 or 3 lbs. He’s calm like his brother Charlie and plays with utter abandon with his sister. He’s brave for such a little guy and plays with cat toys because dog toys are too big!

As I type this, Violet and Gus are asleep in my lap and Charlie is snoring in his ‘man cave’ bed under my desk. My life has always been better for the dogs I’ve known and when I get to the point where I will need a cane to help me walk, I hope that instead I might be blessed with the big dog of my dreams and find a mobility dog. Until then, I have tiny dogs to baby and love and dachshunds at the door. They think I rescued them but the truth is, dogs have always rescued me. Thanks for reading my tail…errr tale!

Congratulations to Sarah, Charlie, Violet & Gus on winning our “If It Weren’t For Fido” Essay Contest! They’ll be receiving a Year’s Worth of Bully Sticks and a donation to their favorite Animal Rescue, the Fredericksburg, VA SPCA

Stay tuned for the next three weeks to read our 1st, 2nd & 3rd place winner’s essays! 

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