The Just Love Project 015: Being One of the Girls

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As anyone who’s had a dog in their family can attest, it doesn’t take long before the family tree is rewritten. Kids gain another sibling. Parents quickly become “Mom & Dad” to one more. It’s sort of like using “we” when talking about a favorite sports team. It just feels better. And it feels right.

Dogs are woven into the fabric of our families, and the reminders of that are sometimes obvious – like proudly identifying as a Dog Mom. And, sometimes they show up more subtly.

Either way for JoAnn & Lia, there’s plenty of both.  

JoAnn & Lia at Mutt Jackson’s opening day at Montrose Dog Beach in Chicago, IL

“She’s my fourth daughter,” JoAnn says. She & husband, Dean, are parents to three human daughters: Estelle, Sophia, & Irene. Lia makes four. And, whether they walk on four legs or two, they get a lot of the same treatment from Mom.

JoAnn’s daughters, Irene (left), Sophia (middle), & Estelle (right), with Lia

House rules are house rules. She’ll help you avoid stupid mistakes. She’ll allow you to make some on your own so you learn a lesson. And, as long as you’re on your best behavior, you’ll eat well. You know, Mom things. And, when it comes to sage advice, it can often have a similar feel, even if for starkly different purposes.

“I just try to tell her that she has nothing to worry about, and that everything is okay,” JoAnn explains.

She was referring to her efforts to convince Lia that shadows aren’t scary dark creatures trying to attack her. It seemed to mirror the sentiment she shared with one of her daughters having some misplaced anxiety about her current education path.  

“Same idea,” JoAnn says.

As her three girls have gotten older and start to leave home, there’s one constant she always looks forward to from Lia.

“Every time I walk in the door, she stands at the top of the stairs with a thumping tail and a big smile. It always makes me feel like she’s happy to see me.”

And, because raising three teenage daughters isn’t always a walk in the park, JoAnn jokes that Lia’s warm welcome is something her three older sisters could learn a thing or two from.  

“I swear, sometimes it’s the only smile I get that day,” JoAnn says with a laugh.

There’s lots of paths to being Mom’s favorite. Looks like Lia’s found a reliable one, even if she has chewed through 100% more shoes than anyone else in the household.  

JoAnn & Lia’s story is part of Mutt Jackson’s THE JUST LOVE PROJECT – our blog series dedicated to celebrating the extraordinary bonds that exist between humans & their dogs. Every Wednesday, we’ll be sharing a new piece – be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so that you don’t miss an installment! And, if you or someone you know think you have a tale to tell, please shoot us an email at – we’d love to hear from you!