Well, that year went fast. Impossibly so. There's nothing to mark how much can change in twelve months quite like a puppy, and most especially our Toby.
Just a year ago Walt and I were bringing Toby home. An adorable armful of sweet butterscotch fluff who quickly turned our expectations, our lives, and our home inside out, upside down, and every which way but what we thought we were getting.
After sleepless months of futile effort to crate train him, Toby decided to sleep in his open crate on the patio. Since the recent cold snap, he's been sleeping in the house - anywhere he decides to land. As I write this he's sleeping on (yes, on) our bed. In fact Walt just called me to come see Toby on "his" bed. The one he allows us to use at night, apparently.
I finally gave up trying to rescue the cats from his no-holds-barred, dog nose to cat tail chases. Somewhere along the line they stopped running, so he had nothing to chase. He satisfies that urge now with squirrels and birds and shadows on the other side of the fence.
The cats love him, or at least tolerate his presence - depending on which of the three we're talking about. Emma, the queen of the household, who doesn't like anyone, including me sometimes, adores Toby. Sometimes in a sort of inappropriate creepy way - but it works for them, so who am I to judge?
We've reached a compromise with the whole walking on a leash business. I don't take him for long strolls in the park with a beautifully slack leash connecting us in a lovely symbolic way. He tolerates the leash for the distance it takes to get to get to the campground and river, where I can release him. He checks in with me (and to claim his treat) regularly. I walk happily. We both have fun.
I'm really grateful that neither Walt nor I verbalized our separate and identical fears that we had acquired the wrong dog. That we might have made a huge mistake. That we might need to consider giving him to a family who could appreciate his independence and strong will.
"Look at him!"
"Come see! Isn't he amazing?"
Every day we fall in love with him a little bit more. I'm not exactly sure when I reached the place where I need the smell of his sweet wild fur and the mischievous gleam of his bright eyes and the smile of his under-bit mouth to feel whole. But I'm there.
He's most certainly not the dog I thought we were getting. He's not even the dog I thought we wanted. He is, exactly, the dog who completes this family and who reflects a rich and abundant part of my inner being I didn't even know existed. He is, always, his own dog, and yet he chooses, always, to be delighted with my company. He is fully physical, completely in the moment, and forgives instantly. Lessons I continue to learn.
All that in a year.