I’m really not an exceptionally sentimental person. I don’t own framed pictures of family and friends — not because I don’t care about them, but I don’t necessarily think I need to own them since I can scour the internet and find many of them all over Facebook. But I do own one framed photo, and it’s of Nikita, my dog, from a few years back.

When I was young, I wasn’t very social. In fact, I was the opposite of a social butterfly (a social moth?). This was especially true during sixth grade, when I had seemed to have lost many of my scant friends from grade school due to moving or just general falling out and hadn’t yet made new friends because — well, I’m still pretty awkward now, and I was about 200 times more awkward back then.

During this time I had one “person” I truly considered a friend: Nikita. It was a veritable story of a boy and his dog, as, when I wasn’t at school I was tromping around with Nikita, exploring my new neighborhood since my family had briefly moved to the other side of town that year. There was a whole series of trails, a creek, and some wooded areas to explore, oh my! What more could two adventurous friends want? I can’t even remember how many times I ended up falling into a river because I had tried to balance on a log and it only making me feel cooler.

Now come to the present. My dog is still alive, though at 18 she’s not exactly as chipper as she once was. She’s deaf, basically blind, and has trouble getting up and down the stairs. But you know what? She is a beast. She is a tank! How many dogs make it to 18, much less making it to 18 while still being able to get around on their own? Answer: not many. Yes, she sleeps about 18 hours a day and the only thing that rouses her with 100% certainty is the prospect of being fed, yet that’s not really all that different from 11 years ago. More than that, though, Nikita is and always has been the most docile, kindest creature in the universe. She is like the Paula Deen of dogs, minus the infatuation with fried food.

While I may have become better at socializing, while I may have more friends and appreciate hanging out with them on a daily basis whereas I used to be content exploring the wilderness with my dog every day, the truth is Nikita is still sort of my best friend. And that’s why she’s the only one I have a picture of.

The other picture from the shoot that led to the photo in my sidebar. I look terrifying and Nikita looks so worried…