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Love and a sassy poodle

The past eight years of my life have been wildly dynamic. It is hard to believe that college is ending, but the experience of preparing to graduate is forcing me to find the concrete constants I have had in my life amidst the chaos.

When it comes down to it, there is one constant force that I’ve had in my life for 12 years that I feel compelled to write about in my last (and only) column—my standard poodle, Misty.

You may recognize her sneaking into our Towerview editor’s note photos or prancing about the quad while trying to get every squirrel in sight. Whenever I take her up to The Chronicle office, people rush to cuddle her before they even acknowledge my existence. I even brought her to class with me a couple times.

It may seem strange to dedicate a column to a dog, but then again, I’ve never had an outlet to express how much this old-lady poodle has changed my life. And I don’t think I realized how much she has shaped my experience at Duke until now.

Misty’s influence has fueled everything I’ve done for the past few years, and everything I hope to achieve in the future. She’s the reason I am going to veterinary school, the reason I care so much about animal welfare. She is the sister I never had.

I remember Misty easing my fears when I was home alone as a child and scared of a creak in the house. I laugh at the memory of her catching a squirrel with blood dripping all over her proper-as-hell fur or when she zoomed past that family photo right as the timer snapped the photo.

We probably could have used her help last summer when a squirrel terrorized Danielle Muoio by making The Chronicle office its home.

No matter how many hours I spend writing about animals in 301 Flowers or working with animals at veterinary clinics (and that’s probably more hours than I’ve slept for the past four years), I do not think I would truly understand what I want to do with my life without Misty.

Even though sometimes Misty pretends to hate me when I’m not giving her enough belly rubs or pretzels, I know that I have given her a good life. But her ability to be a spoiled brat sometimes makes me think about all the animals that don’t have that luxury—the animals that suffer because people purposely or accidentally communicate harmful messages about their care.

I never realized that my time in The Chronicle would be so helpful in preparing me for veterinary medicine. I want to bring animals to the forefront of people’s conversations, but not in an extreme, setting-lab-animals-free way. Even though I won’t become a traditional journalist like many of my fellow Chronicle seniors, I want to use what I’ve learned the past four years to help animals.

While a veterinary degree will allow me to fix physical ailments, I don’t think I will be able to really help animals without understanding the media. There are some people who own pets and just don’t know what hurts or helps them. Everything from how cute an animal is to the presence of a human in a photo can change how people perceive them, and therefore change the perception of how to treat animals ethically.

Next year I’ll be wandering around Australia, trying not to get attacked by bird-eating spiders, crocodiles and cassowaries (which are awesomely terrifying birds that everybody should Google).

Although I’ll be on the other side of the world, I will remember all the good times I had at The Chronicle. But most of all, I’ll remember my best friend Misty.

Ashley Mooney is a Trinity senior. She is the current Towerview editor and former sports managing editor, news blog editor and health and science editor. She would like to thank her parents for letting her bring Misty to Duke for her senior year, and her fellow seniors for making The Chronicle home over the years.

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