Today my sweet angel baby turned one.
It’s funny to think back on the past nine months of his life and remember how far we’ve come together. It’s been a journey of 257 miles, many tears, lots of love and snuggles, and the occasional face full of kisses.
When I look back on our shaky start as a foster mother and pseudo-son team, I think of that fateful day when my family and I followed a hunch. After a quick phone call, we got into the car and drove out to the middle of nowhere “just to see.” At no point during that drive did I actually believe I would come home with a tiny ball of fur.
And yet, as soon as we stopped in the driveway and got out of the car, he came leaping toward us – the grass as tall as his shoulders was quite the hurdle. He was all of 3.5 pounds, and every inch was packed with endless energy and love for everything he met. It was obvious that we were meant to be, his place forever cemented in all of our hearts. This sweet little one was the last of his litter left at the breeder’s house, and yet he was just a perfect doll. He and I were a perfect fit.
Some reflections from the day I brought him home:
He is a three month old ball of glorious white fur that will someday turn into a most elegant toy poodle. As it is now, he knows no fear – moving from one stranger’s lap to the next and oh-so-bravely greeting dogs whose heads are larger than his whole body. My only hope is to keep him from losing this ability. A pint-sized socialite is exactly what I need.
Though he and I were good to go, we still had to face a lot of negativity as we forged our new bond:
“What a waste. There are so many dogs that need adopting, and for free.”
“I can’t see buying a dog for someone who isn’t completely settled yet.”
Most of the criticism came over the name I selected. It just fits. It always has, and now it always will. But almost everyone I told hated it right away. They refused to call him by that name. They said they would “get used to it eventually.” They said “Optimus Prime would have been better.” Or worse, they didn’t say anything at all.
But I was firm. I knew it was perfect and that we were perfect together.
There were so many lessons to learn as a new puppy in a new house. And many new dogs to contend with. He became fast friends with Mister H after getting over the initial terror that he must have felt.
Just over a month after I got him, I packed everything up and moved us to the City. This meant serious adjustments for both of us. He had to get used to not being the only dog in the house – which he loved for a while.
They had lots of fun together, Baby C and Baby L. My favorite days were the dog park days. Baby C was the belle (or whatever you call the boy equivalent of belle) of the ball and Baby L was my little wallflower. But walking down the street, just the opposite was true. The old ladies on the sidewalk would sweep Baby L up in their arms and pray over him in their rapid, lyrical Spanish. Meanwhile, the skeezeball men would whisper threats of stealing Baby C – they want him for dog fights. Obviously this kind of hostility didn’t help Baby C’s already anxious constitution.
My sweet, and very patient little boy has been with me through some of the most painful and darkest days. He puts up with everything I throw at him (figuratively speaking, of course). And even though there have been some very trying moments where he has tested my patience (and I’m sure that goes both ways. I made him wear a Christmas sweater that had a Santa applique on it for goodness sake), he always ends up snuggling up to me in the end.
It’s hard to think of my “Baby” L as an adult. He still has all of that exuberance and enthusiasm of a puppy. Every time I go for the leash to walk him he gets so excited I think he might actually do a back flip. And yet he now will act completely independent of me – he won’t sleep in my bed anymore because I disturb him too much with all my tossing and turning. If there are people in the family room, and I’m in my room alone, he will travel back and forth at will. He still gets anxious when I shut the door with him on the wrong side, but he doesn’t cry about it anymore. He knows to sit patiently and I will come out eventually, or someone will take pity on him and open the door for him.
So while he hasn’t quite reached that stage of “very elegant” that I wrote about the day I brought him home just yet, I’m sure it’s coming. He’s already informed me that when he turns silver he would like a top hat and monocle. Still, we have a great many milestones to reach together before that time.
More importantly, he has agreed to my request that he not grow up too fast. Healthy toy poodles live fairly long lives (12-15 years), so I know I have many happy years left with him, but I also know that time can pass cruelly fast at times. I’m doing my best to enjoy each day we have together even though I get seriously impatient for the future sometimes.
Obviously L (as I feel he should be called from now on) means so much more to me than just a pet. He’s my first dog that is truly all mine. I am the only one who is responsible for him. He represents my big jump into the big scary adult world – even though he often brings out the kid in me. And he’s so often my ray of sunshine in otherwise cloudy times. I just can’t help but feel he was destined to be mine.
So if he promises not to grow up too fast, I have to promise in return that I won’t take our time for granted. Which is sappy and all sorts of lifetime movie lesson-worthy, but you understand. My birthday wish for L is that our future will overall be bright and shiny (or at least brighter and shinier than this past year has been), filled with long walks and lots of playtime.