As I step into my parents’ house, I hear an all too familiar, “Bark! Bark!” Rounding the corner at top speed, our family Yorkie, Max, comes running at me full steam ahead. His ears are plastered back, tail wagging one-hundred miles per hour and, I kid you not, I swear he has a toothy doggy smile plastered across his adorable face. If he was a German Shepherd or Lab, he would surely knock me to the ground. Instead, thanks to his small size, his excited pouncing only reaches thigh high at best. It is as if he is seeing me for the first time; when I squat down to his level, he stands on his hind legs to reach my cheek and plaster it with sloppy kisses.

I love this about him, no matter if I have just walked in the door after a month or an hour long absence, it is always the same joyful greeting each and every time. His greeting is like this for me, my family, or even a random door-to-door salesman off the street. Every person is greeted as if they are his long lost friend. After the routine greeting, Max usually runs for his favorite toy, an old tennis ball. He grabs it in his mouth and then proceeds to prance in front of you, waiting for you to lunge for the ball or chase him around the house. He believes that every visitor has entered his house for one reason, and one reason only, to play with him. He will pester each and every person for a few throws of his ball until he wears out his welcome. Finally, the adrenaline surge will die down, and he will resume his regular call of duty, guarding his beloved spot on the couch.

The love this dog shows is unconditional. When he has an accident or misbehaves, rather than moping or holding a grudge after being disciplined, he quickly forgets and returns to his fun-loving self. When I was younger and had tears after a heartbreak, he was there to confide in without judgment. He never complains or whines if something doesn’t go his way. And there’s no need for fancy workout equipment for my parents; he’s their biggest motivation to go for nightly walks after dinner. Max is advancing in age, and I dread the day when he is no longer there to be my fuzzy, loving friend. But I will always cherish the fond memories of his tail-wagging welcome I’ve received at my parents’ front door.

Today’s simplest pleasures:

1.) The love a pet can give is truly unconditional.

2.) Our pets make wonderful friends and can enhance our day-to-day lives.

3.) Need a workout friend? Grab your dog and head out the door for a walk. It’s an easy way to bond with your pet and improve both of your fitness levels.