When you think of companionship, what comes to mind?

Maybe it’s the parents who have always supported you, or the significant other with whom you’ve built a life, perhaps the college roommate who teaches you to think outside the box or the sibling who is always there for you in a pinch.

Maybe it’s the neighborhood couple with whom you barbecue on holidays, the church group you join on fellowship trips or the volunteer group with whom you attempt to spread joy and hope throughout your community.

Although family and friends can be a great source of companionship—for many—one of the most memorable, impactful, therapeutic and certainly unconditional experiences of companionship we ever experience, particularly as a kid, is with a four-legged family member—a pet.

This month here at West Knoxville Lifestyle, in our Kids + Pets issue we explore how the companionship of an animal can improve the quality of our lives. We look at how the Harmony Family Center pairs kids with dogs to help them transition through a difficult period and how equine-assisted therapy can comfort children who have experienced trauma.

We also learn the important role youth volunteers play in the mission of the Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley, and we share with you the peaceful environment of Sycamore Hollow, a secluded 12-acre equestrian farm.

Gearing up for a new academic year, PYA Waltman Capital advises us on how to talk to kids about money. We offer book recommendations for young readers, and we learn how College Nannies + Sitters + Tutors screens and trains its employees to provide role models for children.

Finally, while enjoying this issue of West Knoxville Lifestyle, I encourage you to patronize our advertising partners, as they are the ones who make it all possible.

Thanks for sharing with us each month—we can’t wait to see you around!