Gaining an older dog’s trust is slow but I am in no hurry 🍂
How many roles can a dog play in your life?

Celebrating dog adoption, big adult dogs, and a Grouchy Puppy muse

On the fifth anniversary of her passing, and ten years after we adopted her from the San Francisco SPCA, I’ve written a letter to my Grouchy Puppy muse. November is a big month here. November is Adopt A Senior Dog Month, in addition to these two auspicious anniversaries. Dog adoption, and adopting a big adult dog in the city changed my life in such a profound way, it felt right to send a virtual thank you to the shepherd husky responsible. 

Dear Cleo:

Thank you. It has been five years since you went on ahead, and though we miss you every single day, I have gained so much insight about people and dogs since your passing.

Image from
Best Big Dog Ambassador Ever

I am so grateful we chose to adopt you. Our life together forever positively changed my views on dogs, what you can expect from life with a dog, and I realize that loss is not something to avoid or be afraid of.

It is incredible that I was ever nervous about adopting an adult big dog! Maybe you made it easy on me, or you were really good at easing me into the role of guardian. The jury is still out but, if I was to guess, I would suggest that you tried to set me up for success as much as I did for you.

What a pair we made. You were the perfect city girl and best friend. You showed everyone how amazing it is to have a dog by your side when you’re out and about. Shoot, even at home, you made me feel safer and glad to have a furry roommate every time I heard some strange noise.

Even if you hadn’t been such a big dog, you made a great motivator to get me outside and active. Thanks to you, I met neighbors and many local shopkeepers. When I might have said nothing and walked by, thanks to your inquisitive nature poking into people’s business, or your beautiful looks inspiring strangers to approach us, we stopped time and again.

Thanks to you, what started as a goodwill campaign for dog adoption in a San Francisco neighborhood turned into a blog, and global social media channels sharing all the ways dog lovers learn, share and celebrate how the animal human bond is demonstrated by dogs and those who love them.

I will always carry you in my heart Cleo. You are forever woven into the fabric of my being. Every dog I see, every sweet encounter with a sugar face at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, and each informative dog book I read keeps you and our experiences together fresh in my thoughts.

How many life lessons did you teach me? You showed me that giving a dog insulin shots was no big deal. We learned together that using a Dremel nail file is a good skill for a dog with ticklish toes. You gave me the benefit of the doubt when I introduced new foods like roasted squash and edamame. I realized you can never get mad at a dog who gets the runs, can’t hold it, and poops in the corner of the bedroom because logically that is the farthest spot from her dog bed, and she is fastidious.


So many wonderful times together, even your passing was incredible. Your quietude and ability to give fearlessly to the last second is something I will never forget. Sweet, sweet girl, I miss you but I don’t, because you are still here. Your photos on the wall, your ashes on the table, your paper-mache alebrijes on our ofrenda keep you with us. Your positive influence resonates, and continues to flow all around. Dearest Cleo, thank you.

Love, your person

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