Dog Year

A letter to Cleo, our rescue beagle, 1 year after her adoption

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this is fine (photo by Jess Cigelske)

Dear Cleo,

It’s been almost a year since we adopted you. You’ve filled our house with more love. And also fur. And also pee.

Seriously, what’s with peeing on the rug? You know that we’ll let you out the back door whenever you want.

We built an entire backyard fence for the sole purpose of letting you and Bella run loose to urinate freely in nature. And yet, once every few weeks you have an accident in the house. This has earned you the nickname Pee-o.

You’ve gained some weight and filled out a little, which we’re happy to see. You’re no longer the trembling skin and bones frame like when you showed up at our house after living your life as an outdoor hunting dog.

You’re more confident in some ways but still skittish. You still run away from any beeping sound that comes from a phone or watch. Thankfully the doorway and steps don’t confuse you anymore. You know your way around the house and have your favorite spots on the couch and in your beagle bed by the door.

Honestly, when we got you, we didn’t know how much longer we’d have Bella, our other rescue beagle. She was looking old and limping around. We thought it would be easier on the kids — now age 8 and 5 — to have a new pet in the house in the event that Bella went to the big dog park in the sky.

But a funny thing happened since we got you: Bella has never seemed better. She stopped limping. She gets excited to take long walks with you. She seems as healthy as an overweight 10-year-old beagle can be.

It’s like hanging around a younger beagle has given her a new lease on life. Now there’s double beagle trouble.

The two of you are partners in crime. You find the fresh laundry to lay on. If it’s not one of you that wants to go outside in the middle of the night, it’s the other. If one of you eats all the dog food, then the other gets hungry.

You’ve also brought a youthful exuberance back into our house. Even though you’re 6, you have the energy of a puppy when it’s time to go for a walk. You literally nip at my heels to get going when I pull out your leash.

Our dog food and vet bills have doubled. We’re on our second family room rug. You occasionally roll in poop and require emergency baths. We invested in a new carpet cleaner to steam-clean your messes. All the things to get and keep getting, it’s never enough, not enough and never-ending.

But there’s one night I think about a lot. It was a hot summer night, and we were on a long walk back from getting ice cream. We were finally back on our own block, so our 4-year-old, Xavier, started racing ahead on his scooter on the sidewalk.

That’s when an SUV started backing up from its driveway. Right where Xavier was headed on his scooter.

In a panic, I started racing toward Xavier, yelling for both of them to stop. I dropped your leash. You ran away. I wasn’t even thinking.

The next few seconds were a blur. I’m eternally thankful that Xavier stopped and the car stopped. It was the most fear-filled moment of my life.

We walked home clinging to Xavier and brought him home in tears.

And you were there.

Even though you had just joined our family, you made it back to our house by yourself. You knew where you belonged.

Your foster family kept telling us that you walk like a dream. They were right.

So as I write to you one the 1-year anniversary of your adoption, I want to say thanks for bringing joy, snuggles and companionship to our house. It’s where you belong.

Now let’s work on not peeing on the carpet.

Written by

Educator. Podcast addict. Wrote a book about creativity:

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