I never intended on getting a dog, but now — a year later — I can’t imagine my life without the little furball.

When I got her, she was the pure-black runt in her litter of all girls and fit in the palm of my hand. I would go visit her momma and her sisters, but I always took a liking to little Juniper (she was my favorite).

Although everyone kept egging me to keep one of the six pups, I resisted. That is until one day, Juniper came up to me on her own, eyes still barely open, used her little claws to climb up my jeans and nuzzled her little face in the crook of my elbow.

How could I say no to that?

I bought all the puppy things — bowls, blankets, a bed and, of course, a toy — and brought her home on Easter Sunday last year.

She was a clingy one, always wanting to snuggle in my arms or climb up my hair to rub her face in the nape of my neck. Now, much more independent, I am the one that has to grab her if I want snuggles or have to wait for her to wear herself down enough to want a nap.

I’m still fairly young and haven’t had much experience caring for any other living being — except maybe a fish that was dead in a few months or some plants that are still struggling today. Getting Juni really helped me to begin thinking outside of myself and caring for the well-being of this little creature.

I now find myself hyper-focused on the way that she’s walking when I sense a limp and ready to take her to the vet when I hear her cough. Although I’m paranoid, she’s healthy as ever aside from recovering from a recent spay.

Even though she is a Chihuahua at heart, my family likes to call her “not really a Chihuahua,” since barking isn’t really her thing and she will make a friend with anything that moves. Juni is really fighting those stereotypes.

My mom, who has never liked dogs for as long as I can remember, will even get on the floor to play with her, snuggling her face against Juniper’s. She will also crochet her little outfits with the extra yarn to keep Juni’s scrawny self warm in the winter.

I like to joke that she has permanent FOMO or “fear of missing out” since she always craves to be in the middle of everything. Juni will run across the house if she hears someone new and will place herself square in the middle of any two people trying to have a conversation.

My dad sees this behavior as more snoopy — pun intended — and dubbed her Mrs. Kravitz, the infamous nosey neighbor from “Bewitched.”

My little Junibee will turn 1 years old on Feb. 15, and you best bet we’re going to celebrate in style. I’m already planning a little doggy birthday party, complete with all her favorite people and a poochie cone from Caliches (only the real ones know).

From puppy to now a nearly full-grown dog, albeit small but still full grown, I wouldn’t take any other pup for Juniper.

I implore everyone who is able to take a little furry friend into their life. The Valencia County Animal Shelter has plenty of options from young to old, calm to energetic, clingy to independent and everything in between.

As we celebrate a year of Juni, I know I can’t imagine my life without her (even if she doesn’t appreciate me as much as I would hope).

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Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, SODA and the town of Peralta.