When John and I decided to get a puppy together, we really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. We weren’t even engaged yet and lived in separate homes, neither of which had a fenced yard. It was early December, and unbeknownst to us, the biggest winter in recent history was on its way. This is not conducive to potty training or leash training or even outside time with a rambunctious puppy. Oh, and John left to go skiing every day. Every. Single. Day.
Luckily, the chubby little squiggle monster with needle-sharp teeth and a white-tipped tail completely stole our hearts from the minute she tumbled into our laps for the first time. When I look back on the first weeks, I can’t help but see little similarities to what I imagine having a new infant will be like (on a much smaller scale). We woke up in the middle of the night to her tiny cries and brought her into bed with us. There were early morning feedings. We whispered and tiptoed around the house during her many naps. Don’t wake the baby. There were teething issues and potty-training accidents. We had babysitters stay with her when we went out at night. She changed everything. She made us crazy with her mischief, her constant need for supervision and attention. But she also made us a family, and when we look back on the photos and videos of those early days, it’s not uncommon for one or both of us to tear up at the sweet puppy memories. I mean, puppy breath and pink puppy bellies are sent from Heaven!
Now, four years later, we can’t imagine our lives without Cholula. There’s not another dog like her. We adore her crooked ears and smaller stature, and she still has that white-tipped tail. She is afraid of flies and sneezes (she will literally crawl into my lap). She feels compelled to freak out at the UPS and FedEx delivery guys (though she’s met them many times). She is exceedingly greedy for love and attention. She loves napping under our bed, though she barely fits. She’s a creature of habit, particularly in the morning: snuzzles in bed with Mama, a lap around the yards, a bark at the door when she’s ready to come in, a special treat for “coming home” on her own accord. She’s a stick freak and a tennis ball hoarder. She loves cheese. We rarely leave her home alone; she’s our sidekick and favorite companion on any adventure. She’s admittedly spoiled and her training could use a refresher course, but she’s loved. And she knows it.
Cholula turned 4 years old on October 11! There’s nothing she loves more than exploring with us- ears up, nose on overdrive, tail wagging. So we decided the best way to celebrate her birthday was on a family hike. We drove through Midway and up a long dirt road to the Ridge Trail 157. Together, we roamed through the aspens at 9,000 feet with killer views of Mount Timpanogos. Cholula wore a red bandana around her neck to make her more visible to elk hunters, but she looked adorable and fancy and it seemed appropriate to “dress up” on her big day.
Days like this make me stop and say “thank you” to the heavens. We live in such a beautiful spot. It was difficult not to stop every 15 feet to take another photo of the view. The sky, the scrub oak, the aspens, the pines- every autumn color in the Crayola box of crayons was represented.
My one goal for the day was to get a great family photo of the three of us. It was a lesson in letting go. We couldn’t find a tree or stump or rock on which to set the camera, and Cholula was not interested in halting her chipmunk hunt to pose for a portrait. We still got a few great shots of one or the other of us with our birthday girl.
We turned around at an aspen grove that was positively glowing with golden afternoon sunlight. Back at the trailhead, we munched on a tasty picnic lunch as the sun flickered through the leaves. Cholula had plenty of treats, and was so tuckered out from romping through the mountains that she passed out five minutes into the drive home. It made me happy to hear her content little sighs from the back seat. Mission accomplished.
We are beyond thrilled to finally be bringing a baby into our mix, but there’s a little part of my heart that aches when I think of the unintentional neglect Cholula will undoubtedly feel at some point. Any dog-lover gets it: she is our baby, our family, one of us. I’m sure I’m a little more nostalgic and emotional than usual (#blamethebaby), but I’m not sorry. Our sweet girl deserves all the love she gets and more.
Happy birthday, Cholula! To many, many more!