We got Austin when I was in 6th grade. I remember the day perfectly. It was my first year in Franklin Lakes and we were required to go away to this camp called Frost Valley for a weekend. I had never spent that long away from my family before and to make matter worse, I was the new kid in school. The year before, we decided to move out of Wayne and build a house in Franklin Lakes. The construction was obviously going to take some time and instead of having me be the new kid in high school (when our house would be finished) my parents (Mom, mostly) insisted that we lie about our address so I could get to know new kids before High School. So for a solid 2 and a half years we still lived in Wayne while I went to school in Franklin Lakes. The day I got home from Frost Valley was as if I had got home from war, Lauren & Chris freaked out. To this day they've never been so happy to see me. We all shared a little bedroom in a house that is actually smaller than my current office. We grew up super modest and to be honest I think that's why we're still so close and protective of each other. I remember getting into the car and them going nuts about this dog they saw at Scuffys (a pet shop in Wayne). By the way these days pet shops are a HUGE no no in the Manzo house. So Dad drove us to the shop and they let this little Jack Russle out of the cage. The second he got out he got out this girl that worked there starts clapping like a complete fool. I'm ten years old and I'm looking at her like she's insane, she notices and says "oh this one runs right to you when you clap". I can remember exactly what I said and how I was standing when I responded. It's not like the response was some poetic thing, but it stands out to me now when I think about it. Austin meant a lot to me. I'm 27 years old and well aware of how dumb that makes me sound, but he did. He was my first friend when I got home from Frost Valley. I didn't make any friends on that trip, I wouldn't make many more throughout jr high, high school either for that matter. But he was always there when I got home. I had a really tough time at school growing up, I'm not trying to turn this into some anti bullying soap box moment but the bottom line is I didn't exactly enjoy myself in my early teens (it's actually still a big part of why I consider myself awkward now). But No matter how my day was, he was there just kind of waiting to hang out. Hanging out at home always made me forget the other stuff, that's why I did it so often and loved it so much and he fit in perfect. He was probably the most excited one out of all of us when we finally moved to Franklin Lakes. Its kind of crazy to think on it now because he's literally had a front row seat to every crazy thing that's happened to us over the years. There were a lot of ups and downs but as crazy and things got the five (6) of us have all stuck together and appreciated every moment we had w each other. It's a tough day for me cuz I didn't lose a dog I lost a piece of what has always kept me smiling over the years. The idea that when you came home, whatever problems you had before you walked in that door just simply didn't matter because what was waiting for you inside was a group of people who were so excited to see you & loved you without explanation. It's just how it was and how it's still been. The girl at the pet shop told me he loved running over when ppl would clap. I responded, "then he's gonna love it at my house, we're so happy we clap all the time."