Dear Dobby,

I can’t believe how quickly time has gone – we’ve already had you for 9 months and you’re turning 1 year old today!

You were such a cute little ball of fluff on the day we got you from Bonnie and Darrin, the toy poodle breeders in Jacksonville – you couldn’t have been more than 3 pounds? But definitely 3 pounds of energy. Your predecessor, Pippi (her ashes are in the barrister bookcase in the living room – I half think they speak to you sometimes, telling you to do things that Pippi used to do) was a skittish little wallflower who was afraid of her own shadow and those behaviors just got worse as she got older. We wanted to make sure that we got a dog that was brave and energetic; one who had personality and boy, did we get what we were looking for! We had a choice ofyou or your sister – she wasn’t feeling well that day and, with that, was huddling quite a bit, especially when you (playfully) “beat her up” like puppies are wont to do. Just like Pippi though, you were the first to kiss us and that sealed your fate to be ours.

Dobby & her litter mates (Dobby is on the right)

Dobby & her litter mates (Dobby is on the right)

Smiling for the camera on the ride home

Smiling for the camera on the ride home

First Family Portrait

First Family Portrait

You were so good on the car ride home. You went back and forth between your brand new plastic kennel (your “mobile home”, as we call it now – you love going in there, I think because you know we’re going to bring you to see new/other people and dogs) and my lap, alternating between sleeping and not. We were afraid that you might have to pee so we stopped at every single rest stop between Jacksonville and home (there are 4 of them, by the way), hoping that smelling the other dogs’ pee in the grass would inspire you. Eventually it did, but not until the VERY LAST stop before home.

You were familiar with metal kennels because that’s what the breeder used, which was good because that’s what we got for you to sleep in. I don’t remember if you slept through the night that first night or not, but I don’t remember any night where you woke us up more than 2 or 3 times a night and after the first few weeks you slept all the way through, anyway. We could have lived without the phase of when you were waking up between 6am and 7am, but we’re glad you eventually settled down to sync with our night owl sleep schedule. Joe was the one who started letting you sleep on the bed, back in August, while I was away for a week. It was a few months earlier than I intended but I can’t say that I really minded. That being said, we also like that you’re tending to calm down at bedtime now, instead of wanting to play until you’re just too exhausted to move. You let us know when you’re ready to give up the “It’s morning, I’m up, let’s GOOOO!” stuff, m’kay? Even if it’s not necessarily at 7am anymore, just laying in the bed for a few minutes really CAN be therapeutic – maybe try it out a few times? Because let me tell you, a dog waking us up by jumping on our face because she’s awake and wants to play NOW might be fun for you. But for us? Not so much.

Pippi was paper trained and it was a godsend, especially in bad weather. So in that grand tradition, we (well, more like “I”) tried to litter box train you. It worked for a while but you never seemed to be thrilled with “going” in the box and would “go” somewhere else whenever given the opportunity. Joe thinks that behavior was proof that I gave you a complex with my frequent exclamations of “Dobby, go pee box” and holding you hostage in the box until you “did” something. It was all for naught though – we got you in late June and left you with Joe’s parents when we were in England in late September – at which time your “grandpa” started taking you outside every few hours to pee and poop. Just like a real dog! You never looked back and have been mostly house trained ever since – sans the box (which is still in the bathroom, collecting dust but not any pee or poop). That being said, thank-you for being willing to “go out” in the rain, by the way. That’s important in Florida. And maybe next winter you’ll be willing to wear the coat we bought for you, instead of trying to chew on it whenever we put it on or take it off you.

I remember when you had no idea of how to hold your toys (my favorite was when you would lay on your back so the toy would sort of “lay” over your mouth) and would bring them to us to hold them for you. You finally figured it out when you were about 6 months old but to this day, you like us to hold your bones and chewies while you gnaw on them. Bones and chewies are pretty much all you have nowadays, since you rip apart stuffed animals in 10 minutes flat – the Pippi-ghost told you how to do that, right? I didn’t think anyone could be a more destructive chewer than her but you even kill the red Kong toys…we’ve taken to getting you the super heavy duty black ones so you don’t take chunks out of them.

I’m grateful that although you love Joe, you don’t IDOLIZE him, like Pippi had. I think you love him a little more than me but I realize that you’re female and he has parts I don’t, so it’s understandable. Loving us 60-40 is still WAY better than Pippi’s 90-10, LOL! We know you IDOLIZE Joe’s parents AND the couple next-door. We can deal with that. Then again, you love EVERYBODY. Your middle name really should be “Dug” (“I have just met you and I love you!”).

You’re an excellent eater and I half-think your second middle name should be “Snoopy” because you’re as excited as the comic/TV character when it’s mealtime. Pippi was a finicky eater for most of her life and I am so thrilled that you SO are not! However we’re being smart with you and, except for a little bit of fruit or vegetables here and there, you have never had “people food.” Oh, and thanks for laying down on your mat while we eat dinner – it’s SO much less annoying that staring at us and begging. We’d kind of like it if you kept your living room and front hallway mats where they belong though, instead of dragging them into the computer room.

You puppyhood was “the best of times and the worst of times.” I’m starting to forget the bad times though, which is probably a good thing since we want to get you a canine sibling one of these days, once you are a full-grown dog, without any more puppy behaviors – and I may not be so keen on having another really young dog if I could strongly remember the cons of having a puppy (sometimes having a sucky memory can have its advantages). I remember when you used to bark at and try to play with your reflection in the mirror in the bedroom – I SO wanted to videotape that before you realized it wasn’t another dog, but I didn’t get to do it in time. You used to play with sunbeams too, trying to “catch” them on the carpet – I got one still picture of that. You still do “apeshit puppy” at least once a day, when you run around like a maniac – but you don’t go quite as fast or for as long as you used to. You still “play nip” and try to lightly chew on our fingers and hands and we’re really looking forward to when you stop doing that. Oh, and I’m not sure if you know but the puppyesque “eating your own poop” behavior should have sputtered out MONTHS ago so will you PLEASE work on that because it’s really gross. I don’t know why you don’t try to put your front paws on my knees when I’m sitting on the toilet anymore…nor do you lick our still-wet legs when either of us are fresh out of the shower – I guess those were “puppy things” too. But then again, I’m glad you don’t try to pick up every leaf outside anymore – that was a real pain in the ass – you can only say “Dobby, leave it/drop it” so many times.

You didn’t used to be afraid of anything – you even handled the 4th of July like an old pro last year and you were only 3 months old then. Now loud noises scare you and you’re not very thrilled with bicycles because of the time that a bunch of kids on bikes and one on a motorized scooter went past you – the noise of the scooter spooked you so you tried to run as far as your leash would allow…and I inadvertently wound up stepping on your foot. So with the memory of the noise ands the pain, bikes are still very iffy for you. But we’re working on that.

You can jump SO high – almost up to my shoulder blades (although at my height, I’m not sure if that’s really so much). And you’re SO smart – little miss one track mind, to boot. Not so easy to distract you. We’re going to teach you how to get out of the pool soon, once it gets a little bit warmer, so should you ever fall in, you’ll know what to do.

Although we named you “Dobby” because it was a cute name from Harry Potter, like the “real” Dobby you have always had this “thing” for socks. It was cute for a while and you let us take the socks away but when you were about 9 months old you started with that possessive behavior, mainly for stuff that you stole (our house has had SO few pens, papers or socks on the floor since that started!). It slowly escalated as you saw what you could get away with (again, smart as a whip) and when Obedience II classes didn’t help remind you who was boss, we brought in the Big Guns – an animal behaviorist. I’m sorry that his 2nd visit was on your birthday but we need to get you fixed ASAP – growling and snapping at us was bad enough – when you bit the groomer because you don’t like having your feet messed with, you went over the line and that was unacceptable. Both Joe and I are on board on this and I have faith we’ll be able to get you out of this habit before it becomes a major problem.

There are so many other things…how we can see you waiting by the door when we get home but just as the door opens you jump back on the La-Z-Boy chair and act like you just woke up (complete with stretching). How you will be kissing us, will stop in mid-kiss for a few seconds, tongue just sitting on our arm or hand, and then continuing. Your tongue is hot…much hotter than Pippi’s ever was. And just like Andi says, your feet smell like Fritos.

It’s been a great 9 months for us and I’m sure we’ll be celebrating your “Gotcha Day” on June 27th. But until then, happy birthday, you little big 1-year-old! We love you!

Sharon & Joe