They started calling me Foxy in high school. All of the sudden I was supposed to be not just ginger, but also sly, a vixen and the assorted cliches. Which I am not, by the way. I wasn’t even going to mention it, but I had to take it out of the way, just in case you were thinking about it. (I love my red hair, it’s my connection to my great grandmother.)

And anyway, animals have personalities way beyond their species. Not all foxes or dogs are alike, for that matter, and I should know, at least as of late. In fact, here’s some wisdom I got from animals in the last 12 months alone.

In January I signed up as a puppy raiser with Light Into Europe. A complete newbie to it, I let myself educated into the nuts and bolts of taking care of Casper, a Labrador who will grow to assist a blind person. We tested the waters for a weekend.

In the world of men, Casper is the big pile of mush who never crosses you at home, but makes a fool of you in public. He also woke me up early, but the mornings out for a walk gave me better looking skin. Also, I had to cut the daydreaming and get the job done faster, before his needs got in the way. Just like that, Casper coached me into better time management.

We tried but did not really warm up to each other (I saw him go gaga over a friend, I know exactly what he wasn’t giving me). I still go duckfaced when I remember. I’m sorry I quit. I just hope somebody loves him.

I applied then for the dog sitter position with my cousin. His Basset hound looked like the smart complement to my ginger locks, plus he occasionally showed me his belly, which I took for a good sign. Again, I went for the 2-day bootcamp. At first we fought for pillow real estate but I learned to set boundaries.

Here’s what’s on Barty’s priority list: food, sleep and smells. And he does it like it’s the only thing that matters. Ever. I love that about him, it makes me love my world more. He also broke my Paul & Joe Sister (really cool, but a bit old) glasses, and my heart. I decided to snap out of it because really-cute-and-disarming-mug. And so Barty taught me how to not end relationships after a fight.

Had he broken the Chanels, I would have probably not had the chance to learn that, but let’s not get into it. Speaking of Chanel, did I mention Ted the mousicorn? He can’t hold his wits about the brand and spends the piggy bank on every other gloss or lipstick. I painted him during an art workshop with the talented Otilia Cadar and learned that art is hard labour and worth every penny.

Ted guards my office and my spirits with Harry the bat, a token of love from one my first grade aikido students. Every student showed me their bats on Halloween, but my knight in shining armour actually gifted it to me. As he gifted me his math notes and a precious purple plastic pencil cap. He quit after two semesters and I was left teary eyed in the school lobby. Harry taught me flings don’t last. But they’re a scream.

Did you crack a smile as you found out I teach children, support worthy causes and have good taste + a heart? (If you didn’t, what’s wrong with you? Or you’re a cat person.) Your About page works pretty much on the same principles. It’s a way to tell your clients what they need to understand they’re in good hands. It sets the stage for the story about you and them.

Barty’s coming over for the weekend. I just thought you should know. And no, I don’t have a fox tattooed on my arm. That’s not me.