It’s been five years since we adopted you, and it just doesn’t seem that long. Even though we got you when you were already a year old and as “big” as you were going to get, I still think of you as a puppy. I’m so happy that you’ll always remain a teensy, tiny, short little dog.
We hoped your fear/aggression toward adults (men in particular) would eventually go away, but it hasn’t. And that’s on us. This fall, we’re going to hire a dog trainer to hopefully help you get past your fear of letting other people visit our home. Hopefully, this will also mean that men can come up to you in the park. The good news is that you love kids. Whenever we walk in the park, children sprint up to you and ask permission to pet you, and you never bark. You sit patiently as they pet your head or stroke your ears or try to uncurl your tail, and you don’t even blink when they dissolve into shrieking giggles after discovering your name.
You learned a few more tricks this year, but I think after we conquer the “no barking at people” behavior, you’ll be ready to tackle some more complicated tasks. You’re a smart boy, and I love to watch you follow commands, even if that command is for you to “shake” seven times in a row just to see if you’re paying attention.
When we play fetch with you, you take turns returning the ball to us. So if Jason throws it, you’ll bring it to me to throw next and vice versa. It’s like you’re making sure we get the same amount of attention from you, and it’s pretty much the cutest thing ever.
You play with Jason and I differently, though. With him, you wrestle or jump on his back, but with me, you chase after your ball and come racing full-tilt to jump into my lap, usually knocking me backwards. Last month, you decided mid-leap to jump over me instead of into my lap, and your leg collided with my mouth. For a few tense moments, I was afraid you had knocked my teeth out. Instead, I had a cut, puffy lip that needed to be iced for an hour before the swelling came down.
We bought you a purple rubber ball with spikes on it, and you hate this ball. Absolutely hate it. I don’t know if you don’t like the feel of it or you don’t care for the way it crazily bounces instead of rolls, but you get angry at the sight of it. If we try to throw it for you to chase, you’ll briefly run after it before realizing WRONG BALL WRONG BALL HATE THIS BALL NO. Then you’ll come running back to your toy basket, upend it with a paw, root around for a stuffed animal to grab and shake to show us the depth of your displeasure, and then grab a tennis ball to drop into our lap, as if saying, RIGHT BALL USE THIS BALL NO OTHER PURPLE BALL NOT A BALL PURPLE BALL STUPID HATE PURPLE BALL.
You still run downstairs to hide when we turn on the stove or grab a pan, but we’ve been trying to coax you into staying upstairs while we cook. You always seem to know when we’re just microwaving something or making a sandwich though, because you hang out right by the counter hoping to snag a piece of cheese or a swipe of peanut butter.
If we get home late after a Twins game, you’re usually reluctant to go back into your kennel after being outside. You often refuse to come in right away, and as soon as you’re inside, you sprint to our bed, where you’re only allowed to sleep on weekends. Once we shoo you off, you sprint to the futon and hop on that. You only go to your kennel after we’ve cuddled and sang your goodnight song. Every time I sing it, your eyes get droopy and 99% of the time, you yawn halfway through it. That Pavlov guy really knew what he was talking about, and I’m so happy we started singing that song to you at bedtime because it really does calm you down.
You love to sleep with us on the weekends, and usually seem to know when it’s Friday or Saturday. When I bring you inside before bed, I’ll ask, “Where are you sleeping tonight?” and all we can hear is your paws scrabbling to get traction on the hardwood floor because you’re in such a hurry to jump up on our bed.
You are still a nester. So much so that your middle name is now Nestor. We debated getting you a fleece pad to put into your kennel, but you prefer having a blanket to nose into various configurations. You also use this technique on our bed, and what amazes us is how neat you are about it. We can never catch you in the act; we only see the end result.
My favorite parts of the day are cuddling with you upstairs while reading or sitting on the couch at night with you in my lap. Sometimes you’ll twitch while sleeping or start wagging your tail in your sleep and I always wonder what you’re thinking about. I told Jason this week that if I ever get to travel in a time machine, I’d like to go back and find you as a puppy. I bet you were the teensiest, wrinkliest, cutest puppy ever.
We love you, buddy. You are such a good boy.