Dearest, most loved Emmett,
Nine years ago today, you came home.
We knew very little about dogs, and you were the best teacher we could’ve asked for. You were so patient and tolerant with us as we tried to figure everything out. What should he eat? How should we train? How many walks does he need? We are over-thinkers in general, and it was magnified a million-fold for you, so as we researched and debated these things, you just went along with whatever. Like, we discussed where you should sleep: gated in the kitchen? on a bed in the living room? in our room? Ultimately, of course, you decided to sleep in the arm chair in our room. You actually decide most things…
As much as I love you, and I do with every scrap of my being, you are not perfect, Emmett. You do very naughty things! In fact, on Saturday night you ate half the litter box because we left the gate unlatched by accident. Not just the “goodies,” but the litter, too. Yesterday was a long day.
Over the past nine years, our biggest battle with you has been your stomach–boxes of Crayons, cupcakes we made for our neighbor’s birthday, my sister’s dogs’ bag of dog food, two loaves of zucchini bread, many unopened boxes of dog treats, compost, a Christmas wreath, two whole avocados, several sticks of butter… this list could go on, but it’s far too stressful for me!
No, you’re not perfect. In fact, you’re not that well-behaved at all! Counter-surfing aside, you pull on leash and have a habit of putting your paws on people. You jump up on tables and the receptionist’s desk at the vet’s office. You know lots and lots of cues and behaviors, but you actively choose when to listen and when to do what you want. You are the definition of stubborn.
Your strength, the thing that makes you so uniquely you, is that nothing rattles you. Nothing. You can go anywhere, do anything, meet anyone, and you’re just your happy, confident self. Your whole life has been about assuming the very best about everyone and every single situation. Everyone is assumed a friend, and every place has the potential for fun.
It’s awe-inspiring, really, considering you’ve been through quite a lot. This is your second bout with cancer, and between this and the nerve-sheath tumor years ago, you’ve been poked and prodded and blood tested and examined by a dozen vets… and you love them all! Even the ones who stick needles in you! We have a hard time getting an accurate weight on you because you won’t stop wagging your tail on the scale in the lobby!
Last year, Emmett, when I was writing you your Gotcha Day letter, we had just hit the three-month mark after receiving a prognosis of only three to six months left with you. I truly thought it was the last letter I’d write to you. And now it’s a year later.
As I said, the definition of stubborn.
Every time I take you up to the oncologist, they look at your ultrasounds and x-rays, they say that you still have the splotches on your liver and spleen, and then they sort of just shrug their shoulders. They say to keep you on the chemo, keep doing blood checks, and bring you back in three months. So, that’s what we do. That’s what we’ve been doing for over a year now. And you don’t mind. Heck, you think Purdue is just another place to have a big old Emmett Party. Because they’re all your friends, obviously!
As I write this, you are where you always are: dozing in your bed next to my desk. Many people have said over the years, especially when you were still working, that you’re my sidekick, but you and I know it’s the other way around. You’re the star of this show, Emmett. You’re my best friend, my inspiration, my light.
Happy ninth Gotcha Day, my sweet boy.
I love you, Emmett.