Whether you are a horse lover, a feline fanatic or a true pup parent, there is nothing quite like the unconditional love of a pet–something these Alachua County residents are more than aware of! From rescues to therapy animals, these pet lovers are sharing what makes their relationship with their animals so special!
with owner Melissa Johnson
I never had a pet before I adopted Kenzie, and she has completely rocked my world. Kenzie (racing name “Can’t Stop Desire”) retired from racing in Sanford in late 2016. We met at a local greyhound meet-and-greet in January 2017. She was the last of her crew to get adopted (she was a bit smaller and had a bad muzzle scar on her snoot). It was a scary start. I live in a second floor apartment, and like many retired greyhounds, she had never seen stairs before. Carrying her 60 pounds up and down stairs for two weeks before she’d get comfortable using them was a trial! (also, my back—yowza!!)
Fast forward to now, and she’s my partner in almost everything. She travels with me almost everywhere within driving distance. She loves hotels and exploring new places. She thinks she’s human–she has no idea she’s a dog. She doesn’t care about toys or other animals, not even squirrels or rabbits. She’s obsessed with ice cream and chicken nuggets (Chick-fil-A or Publix popcorn chicken, please), car rides, naps in awkward positions and strutting on the beach.
Kenzie and I have gotten involved in two really important programs together: therapy work through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs and the Canine Blood Donor Program at UF Vet Med. As a therapy dog team (pre-COVID), we volunteered at local hospitals and retirement homes, but her favorite place by far is at UF. Kenzie has
changed my life so much in the five years we’ve been together, and I’m also so happy that we’ve been able to impact others through our therapy work and the blood donor program. She has volunteered at the UF Libraries– especially during stressful periods like exam weeks–and held regular office hours for my students in the UF Honors Program. In fact, she even has her own staff bio and official nametag: http://www.honors.ufl.edu/about/honors-staff/ therapy-dogs/. We are really hoping to resume therapy work on campus soon, once it feels safer as she tends to draw a large crowd.
The Canine Blood Donor Program is also amazing. Kenzie has been a part of that for over three years, and we’ve received several notes about the direct impact of Kenzie’s donations to help other dogs at the UF Small Animal Hospital. Kenzie loves getting spoiled by the Vet Med staff, as well as by me, after she has donated!
Follow Kenzie on Instagram! @kenziethegreyt