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Comfort and joy in one furbaby package.

Celebration of thanks

I always hated that moment at the Thanksgiving dinner table when everyone was required to state what they were grateful for.

"I'm grateful for the awesome shoes I'm wearing" was usually the only answer that I could allow to pass through my lips. Heaven forbid I state that I was thankful for my family!

This year, though, I will be proud to say that I'm thankful for Denali. Not only has he brought me companionship but the experiences gained and laughs had are all worth showing a little gratitude.

And it's in that spirit that I present to you my Denali-related top 10 reasons to be grateful.

10. Having inherited Denali, I'm grateful to have a "piece" of my mom around me. All the time.

9. I am grateful that I'll never again have to mop the floor because I spilled milk.

8. I am grateful that Denali no longer wakes up at 3 a.m. and barks in my face. If he wakes up before 6 a.m., he responds to the command "bed" and returns to his sleeping mat.

7. I am grateful that Denali's need for exercise got me off the couch and running. He accompanied me on a 4-mile trek Sunday - quite a feat for me. Not so much for him.

6. I am grateful that Denali has a stomach of steel and did not get sick after eating half of a giant tub of Country Crock margarine.

5. I am grateful that when people prod me about my baby-making calendar, I can say that I do have a baby. A furbaby named Denali.

4. I am grateful that Denali has showed me that I'm not quite ready to be a parent to a human baby.

3. I am grateful that I have, hands down, one of the most beautiful dogs on the planet.

2. I am grateful for Denali's exuberant spirit. A blueberry, raw carrot can make him sprint in glee, and he bounds in from training class as if to report about how well he's done.

1. I am grateful to have a being that will (almost) always come when asked, is always happy to see me and is always there to comfort me when I need it.