Adopted Puggle Finds Best Big Brother Ever

Nine-year-old Michael Alexander keeps Athena happy and playful.

Michael + Athena

Nine-year-old Michael found the dog sister he’d always wanted: Athena.

"When I come home from school, Athena is ready to greet me with more joy than you can imagine. She runs to the door, jumps up, balances on her hind paws, and gently places her front paws on my legs."

Adopted Dog Athena

It sounds funny to people who don’t understand life with a four-legged family member, but it’s as if our puggle Athena always belonged with us, and we just needed to let her into our hearts and home.

When I come home from school, activities, or play dates, Athena is ready to greet me with more joy than you can imagine. She runs to the door, jumps up, balances on her hind paws, and gently places her front paws on my legs. Her jaw extends wide and her pink tongue curls up and out. It’s so cute. Her ritual includes licking the back of my legs, sometimes one, sometimes both legs.

Adopted Dog Athena

She’s the little sister I never had, and I work hard to be the best big brother. I read to her, bathe her, sleep with her, take her for walks in the neighborhood, and make sure she has canine friends. My human friends get excited to visit and play with Athena.

Adopted Dog Athena

I’m 9 and she’s 1, so I’m closest to her in age, but Athena equally loves my Daddy and Mommy, and she knows she’s part of our family. She is loyal, protective and understands when we need extra support. If one of us is sick or sad, she will snuggle with us.

Mostly, Athena loves to play. Having her in our lives has made our home and our neighborhood a happier place. She surprises other humans with her strength and energy. She weighs 15 pounds, but she likes to play with much bigger dogs. She can leap several feet, catch balls in her mouth and even in her paws, and does a lot of yoga stretches.

I named her after the grey-eyed goddess, even though her eyes are sparkly light brown framed with black as if she’s wearing eyeliner. Like the Greek goddess, our dog shows wisdom, courage, inspiration, strength, strategy and skill.

Adopted Dog Athena

Our family is small and close-knit, three strange humans sharing a cozy, two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in New York City’s West Village. I’ve always wanted a younger sibling, and when I realized that would be impossible, I focused my goal on convincing my parents to welcome a puppy into our lives.

We take her everywhere. She loves adventure. We go to dog-friendly places so she can stay with us. We can’t imagine life without Athena. For her birthday, my Mommy and I made pupcakes, mini cupcakes made from healthy, dog-friendly ingredients. They were so yummy, my Daddy and I also enjoyed eating some.

We have a lot of special habits with Athena, and one of our favorites is a song we sing to her. We changed the lyrics from the Blondie song Maria, but the words are based on our love for Athena. We took out some of the lines and mixed it up.

Athena, we love to love her
A million and one kind of loves
Ooh, don’t you wanna take her home?
Ooh, wanna make her all your own?

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Michael won Waggytail Rescue, Inc. in New York, New York a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.