Now that it is the weekend, I can’t help but feel the absence of a Saints game. For us New Orleanians, the Saints are far more than a football team. Their Superbowl victory brought a triumphant close to the purgatory (or Hell) that many of us experienced post-Katrina. It isn’t like things aren’t different here still, but for so many of us, the Saints gave us back the celebratory spirit we weren’t sure would ever return.

In addition, they are the ultimate underDOG story. For years and years, we felt the pain that comes with losing over and over. We couldn’t help but cheer for them though and believe that one day, just maybe, things would change.

I’m not going to lie. Last weekend’s game may be the worst I’ve ever seen. Somehow, it may have been easier on many of us if the Saints had just lost immediately after those early turnovers to San Francisco. But, instead, we rode the roller coaster of hope- feeling just about every emotion possible including, but not limited to, disappointment, fear, resignation, acceptance, joy, elation, and ultimately nausea.

Through it all though, I couldn’t help but feel grounded. And that’s all due to Jax. Jax is my friend Jeff’s nephew-dog with whom I had the pleasure to watch the game. A beautiful, big yellow lab with a face that keeps reminding you that there is more to life than football, Jax watched us experience all of our emotions. He followed along both when we jumped for joy and when we moped.

Mostly, though, he just wanted to go outside. And who could blame him? One of the other amazing things about living in NOLA is our beautiful weather. Jax didn’t understand why we’d want to sit inside when the grass was literally greener outside.

This is what pets always do for me- pull me out of whatever crazy human train of thought I’ve started to follow, remind me of what’s really important (love, fun, and just taking one breath at a time) and for that I am grateful. And Jax was grateful too- for all of us, for the treats he got during the game, and especially for the ball we threw for him at halftime.

Like the Saints, Sarah the Pet Sitter started as just a dream and grew into a strong competitor that brings a lot of joy to the people of this city. Like New Orleans, we have had and still have our ups and downs. No matter how trying, the journeys of the Saints, NOLA, and SPS are a joy, especially because we get to brave it all with the best possible partners: the pets we serve.