Thursday, 25 August 2016

Dear Tara

This week you turned five years old.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

It hardly feels like any time since I posted my Year of Tara blog post but it's been three years. Where's that time gone, Tuppy Tup?

I can still remember that day in April when we brought you home. You were so unsure of being in a car and did such a good job of travelling. At least, you did until we were about three miles from home and you puked all over the car seat. An auspicious start to your life in our family.

In the last four years and five months, I feel like we've got to know you really well. You're a total Daddy's Girl; you'll do almost anything for a 'bikkit', you are the most cuddly dog I've ever know and you sleep in the strangest positions I've ever seen.

When we got you, you really didn't know how to walk on a lead. You probably didn't for the first two years and then one day it clicked. Now we walk several times every day and you're happy to trot alongside us, and only sometimes forget and try to pull ahead. It's usually when there's something interesting up ahead and you just can't help yourself.

I love the way that when someone walks towards us your whole demeanour changes. Your doggy body language just screams 'pay attention to me, please pay attention to me'. Your ears go up and you tail wags at a slightly different pace. If they smile or stop to pet you then you dissolve into ecstasies; if they don't, your ears and tail go down and it's painfully obvious that you're the saddest dog in the world.

Other things that make you the saddest dog in the world include, but are not limited to; being put in your bedroom when you think you're missing out on something, having something you shouldn't have forcibly removed from your mouth, thinking you're going Calvary Pond on a walk and finding it's just a trip to the bump and back, and seeing Yoda getting a treat when you don't get one.

You love to help with the laundry. I think you know that's 'Mummy's job' and you don't think I'm very good at it. You're very good at sorting out socks from the pile (but not very good at giving them back), you could probably unload the machine if I let you (but given your unreliability with the aforementioned socks it's probably not wise), but you love coming out to the garden when I hang out laundry too (though you're usually more interested in exploring the smells out there than what's in the basket, this is probably a good thing).

I think your favourite time of day is in the evening, when we've all eaten tea and we've popped a DVD in the DVD player. Daddy stretches out on the sofa and you curl up on his legs. You can curl up pretty small when you want to (not when you're sleeping in the middle of our bed though, more's the pity) and the pair of you snuggle under a throw. Sometimes you dream and twitch and wiggle your tongue. You're always happiest when everyone is together, it's like you can't relax unless everyone is in the room at once.

Even though you're five and you're a grown up labrador now, you're still learning new things. You've discovered a love of cuddly toys (and you've almost learned not to totally destroy them now). You just learned to swim in the last couple of weeks (watching you in the water is one of my favourite things). The list of words you know seems to grow each month. Maybe I'm biased but you're pretty smart.

When I look at your face I only occasionally see the puppy I brought home, that gangly seven-month old bundle of teeth and fur and energy. I see it when you spot something new that you can't fathom, or when you're feeling especially playful, or when you're tired and they little puppy face pokes out from behind those grown up eyes.

More often than not, you're my big grown up girl now. You seem more serious somehow, more reserved, more sleepy and sedate. Part of me is sad for the bouncy excitable puppy that you're not now, but I'm happy too. I'm happy that I've played a part in you becoming this mature dog. I'm happy that I'm your person and when you got in the car yesterday you were so pleased to see me you leaned over the seat to kiss my fingers. I'm happy that when there are fireworks on the estate and you're scared, I'm the one you run to in order to make you safe.

I'm happy that I'm yours.

Happy birthday, puppy dog.

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