Eight years ago yesterday we drove out to a shelter in northern Virginia, loaded you into the car, and brought you home. I remember it clearly – we got stuck at a light on Connecticut Avenue. You had fallen asleep in the back of the car. At the stoplight, you lifted your head, looked around, and – taking in the hustle and bustle of downtown DC with people, car, noise, everything – put your head down and went right back to sleep. Truly, Emmett, that moment hailed the Zen-like calm we now just expect from you (unless there’s food involved/nearby… then all bets are off).
To say that that day eight years ago changed our lives sounds hyperbolic, right? But, Emmett, you have literally changed every single facet about our lives, from big-picture stuff to the little daily routines. Eight years ago I was working in a totally different field in a totally different industry. I hadn’t yet started the blog, which you sparked, my dear. I hadn’t yet attended BlogPaws or, heck, joined Facebook! On that day eight years ago, we were people who really liked dogs. We weren’t yet Dog People. Now, thanks to you inspiring me to start this space, and all the opportunities that have evolved from there, I get to work in an industry full of passionate, pet-loving people. You changed the course of my career, Em. And I’ve made some of the greatest friends, wonderful people who I never would’ve met without you.
And that goes for how we spend our free time, too. You made us early risers and long walkers. Without you, we’d probably still sleep in on the weekends!
Without you, Emmett, we never would’ve adopted Lucas and learned about fearful, reactive dogs. Without you, we never would’ve gotten involved in pit bull advocacy, and I definitely wouldn’t have ever applied for Pinups for Pitbulls! Even before that, I never would’ve volunteered for Indy Pit Crew, so without you, we never would’ve adopted Cooper. You inspired us to action and advocacy, Emmett, and that has since extended to Newt, Molly, and Petey.
You have literally altered the course of our lives, and – to be perfectly honest, Em – I think you set us on a better path. The direction our lives have taken thanks to you is a love-filled, inspired one. My gratitude for that is immeasurable.
This Gotcha Day feels more precious to me, Emmett, because we just don’t know how much time we get with you. I suppose that’s true about everybody in the grand scheme, but I just can’t wrap my mind around or accept you being ill. Your bloodwork this week wasn’t so good – not bad bad, but not what we wanted – and it made me realize that I’ve been approaching this situation with a whole lotta denial. I’m not yet willing to change that denial to acceptance, so, instead, we’re going to keep working on your bucket list, move back home to Indiana, and make sure all your moments are good ones. You deserve nothing less.
You are my touchstone, my sidekick, my best friend. I am forever grateful for that day we found you at the shelter. “You have to meet Emmett,” the volunteer had said. Who knew that one sentence and the love-at-first-sight greeting with you moments later would lead us here, eight years later?
Yes, this story is going to end with deep heartache. But I consider myself the luckiest person with an eternal well of gratitude for being entrusted with your care all those years ago. My life is immensely better and fully changed because of you, Emmett. And, so, for your eighth Gotcha Day, you will get spoiled (of course)! You’ve already had one ice cream. You’re getting another tonight. And we have a steak with your name on it. We’ll figure out something fun to do this weekend, before we leave Houma, though I think you’re going to be SO happy to be back in Bloomington that we’ll have to have another celebration then!
You deserve as many parties as you want!
You are my best friend, my (canine) soul mate, my love.
I love you, buddy. Happy Gotcha Day, Emmett.