A BIRTHDAY LETTER TO WINSTON

My son, Winston Winifred Winnie Simmons, turns one today. So like any mom, I decided to write about just how much he means to me. Some may say he is just a dog, but I beg to differ. As I am writing this, he has his head in my lap, paws on the keyboard, and eyes looking up at me. I have a squeaky toy lodged underneath me and I can see his ‘secret’ stash of my bras and socks underneath the dining room table. I could have never imagined how much getting a dog would change my life, but it did.

To be honest, he was a total impulse buy. I was at my worst, I had just temporarily moved home to Fort Wayne (keyword: temporarily) and I dangerously started googling. We have had soft-coated wheaten terriers since I was little because they meet my mom’s requirement that they do not shed. All seven of our wheatens have been from out of state; however, the stars aligned on that day and there was an ad for a breeder in Bluffton, Indiana. Before I knew it, I was emailing my new BFF Ruth inquiring about her pups.

My parents went with me to ensure that I didn’t completely lose my mind and buy the whole litter. I immediately chose the runt. I wanted a boy and he was the calmest of all the pups when I held them. He may have been tiny, but I could tell he would be a handful. I picked up my five-pound furball a few days before Valentine’s Day. I remember holding him in my arms thinking, ‘It’s just you and me, kid.’

The next few weeks and months were sleepless and exhausting, but all worth it. I would fall asleep with my arm hanging over the bed and into his box. He was hilarious in the snow. Winston could not get enough of romping back and forth in our front yard, while the white dust flew around him.

I held him in my pea coat as I looked at houses and condos in Indy and made sure Winston approved of our new home. New adventures can be scary, but having Winston made it easier. He is a great listener, midnight dancer, and Starbucks run companion. He has kept my life in perspective on many occasions. When I have been overwhelmed or stressed, he will just give me the look.

I am also convinced that a puppy should be a requirement before you have kids. You’re not ready for parenthood until you have debated calling poison control, googled at what age they should be doing what, woken up at all hours of the morning, found a pair of $200 shoes completely destroyed (but more worried about them than the shoes), taken countless showers and baths with them, and cleaned up all the bodily functions. Yep, that’s real love right there.

So here’s to many more years of adventuring together. His age will forever be a reminder of a turning point in my life and I am so thankful I could open a whole new chapter with such a loving, funny, and mischievous sidekick.

“Dogs are here to remind us life really is a simple thing. You eat, sleep, take walks, and pee when you must. That’s about all there is. They are quick to forgive trespasses and assume strangers will be kind.” ― Jonathan Carroll

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