Editor’s note: May is National Pet Month in the U.S. Area families celebrate their furry family members and the benefits they’ve brought to the family.
By Christina Calloway
At the end of a long day, Dan Paciello’s stress can be relieved when greeted by his black Labrador Sox.
“He’s definitely my best buddy,” said the 21-year-old Cannon Air Force Base airman from New York. “He’s just always by my side.”
Paciello and his wife Sam have always loved dogs. The high school sweethearts each had a childhood dog in their home in the small town they grew up in, so in order to make their home here, they reached out to local animal rescue Hope Defined to find some new additions to the family.
“One of the first orders of business we had was to get a dog,” Paciello said.
The Paciellos picked up Sox when he was 6 months old. They figured he was named Sox because the bottom of his legs are white so they kept the name.
“We just fell in love with him,” Paciello said.
The couple is into outdoors activities such as hiking, fishing and traveling. While Sox is the energetic pup, their other rescued dog Fynn, a Chihuahua and dachshund mix, is described as the “cuddly type.”
“He likes to have all the attention he can get,” Paciello said of Fynn. “He loves his big brother. They sleep with each other every night.”
Paciello said it gives he and his wife pride when they can make their dogs happy, reciprocating the unconditional love he feels the dogs give them.
“Being a family wouldn’t be the same without them, my entire time in New Mexico wouldn’t be the same without them,” Paciello said. “Just watching them grow is kind of an awesome thing.”
Paciello feels like he’s also extended his family through volunteering with Hope Defined, a nonprofit he highly regards as putting in all the effort to help save the lives of animals.
Portales Animal Shelter officer Dustin Bouchard also works with Hope Defined in getting many of the animals there adopted, but Bouchard has a hard time resisting to take home another dog.
Bouchard and his wife have two rescued dogs, an Akita-mix and an 8-year-old mastiff named Jake. The father of four said Jake, despite being 215 pounds, is just another one of their babies.
He took Jake in after a fellow Animal Shelter officer could not care for him. Bouchard has had Jake for two years.
“They’re just like companions, they let your kids burn off some energy,” Bouchard said.
Bouchard said his large dog would often go missing and be found at the Clovis Holiday Inn’s kitchen, but besides his adventures, Jake is described as a gentle giant.
“Everybody’s kind of scared at first and then they realize he’s just a big Teddy bear,” Bouchard said.
Melissa Kirby of Clovis said a few years ago she couldn’t imagine having a dog. The Clovis teacher was attacked by two pit bulls two years ago and was frightened by the ordeal.
Kirby said her husband suggested getting a dog as the best way to recover. Kirby was hesitant at first but she eventually agreed to consider getting a dog, one preferably that could run with her.
Her family went to look at a few dogs up for adoption and her eldest daughter, who was also terrified of dogs, greeted a black lab-mix. Kirby said that was a good sign.
“For her to go up to a dog and start petting him we thought, this is it, this is our dog,” Kirby said.
Kirby said her family adopted Trenton in August and that he’s brought a great energy to the family. The 60-pound dog loves sitting on her husband’s lap and is gentle with the children.
“He brings lots of love,” Kirby said. “It’s nice to have someone else to love us. Having him around, we do more. He’s a fun-loving dog.”
She said one of her most memorable moments with Trenton was when he visited their home prior to the adoption and couldn’t figure how to get around a couch, so he jumped over it.
“He just seemed like the most awkward dog,” Kirby said. “He was so clumsy about it.”