A house is just a house — a building decorated inside to fit the owners’ interests, with a neatly painted exterior. But a home is worth so much more. Like the expression, “Home is where the heart is,” it isn’t merely a place; it’s a feeling, it’s a people, and it’s a family. Home is truly where the heart is — with the people you love, wherever they are. A home, therefore, is filled with light, laughter, learning, tears, and, of course, love. In other words, you can be at home even when you’re not at the house. “Home” can be wherever you are.

During this quarantine, I have come to understand what it truly means to be home, not only at the house but with my family, as well. And although being at home quite literally means being in my house, it also means being at home with the people I love and doing what I love. I have everything I need. This doesn’t only include my mom and sister, but our four dogs, too. They mean the world to us and, in my opinion, truly make our house our home. Our home is their home.

Simply put, dogs — pets — complete the puzzle. Although they can be frustrating and annoying at times, they bring joy to a home, balancing out the factors that create a home. They arise in excitement when you return from being gone for days, and they hate it when you’re even gone for a minute. Home is coming home to these fury friends who love unconditionally and make you feel accepted no matter what. That is what it truly feels like to be home. And I have that. God has blessed me with a home worth cherishing.

For me, even when everything seems to be falling apart, my dogs are always there for me to put my shoulder on. When my family upsets or disappoints me, I still love them, and therefore, they are just as much a part of my home. They are the ones that I can come home to and, at the end of the day, are the ones I never want to leave. My home is wherever they are, no matter where we are in the world.

So, conclusively, your home is your family and friends — and your pets; it is your safe place. This is where we truly live — where we love, and learn, and want to be. And when we aren’t together, they are still with us, in our hearts, and in our thoughts. This is where we are at home. It doesn’t have to be a particular place; it can be a people, a thought — a safe place where you can go time and time again, joined together with those you love. This is what makes a house a home.