... to Sensei!
And as a little homage to him turning a year old, here's his sort-of birth story. Or at least how Bill and I became his parents :)
Now, growing up, I always thought those people who were so obsessed with their dogs were strange. I mean, it's only a pet, right? It's not like it can talk to you or take care of you when you're sick or take you out to dinner. It's just an animal. Maybe it's because I never had one (my dad's allergic), but I was always just content to play with my friends' dogs and then head back to my pet-free home. Don't get me wrong, I love dogs, but I wasn't necessarily a dog person. You know the type I'm talking about. Dog magnets on the fridge, hit up PetSmart once a week, know their neighbors only by their dogs and not their actual names, hang out with other dog-owners at the dog park and trade stories...
But on to the story. After a few years together, Bill had promised me that we could eventually get a dog, though. He had one when he was younger and really loved her, and I knew I could totally get into being a dog-owner. I liked them, and I knew it would be fun. Bill told me he'd probably get me a puppy for Christmas last year, which was really exciting for me. And if you know Bill, you'll know that he researches any decision before he makes it. (As a side note, this is a wonderful trait of his, as it completely balances out my tendency to just do things impulsively without knowing what I am doing.) Anyways, over the summer he had researched dog training techniques, types of dogs, crate training, and so on. It was a little overwhelming, but I knew we would be ready by Christmas. Let's face it, Bill actually already knew what he was doing, but he was giving me plenty of time to prepare for a puppy. I'd never had a pet before, so I wanted to be ready... I can hardly imagine what people go through when they are preparing for human babies! So by this time, it was late July and we still had about five months to prepare ourselves by puppifying Bill's home and getting everything we needed; but all that changed. It was getting to be the end of the summer, and one hot humid afternoon, we decided to take a trip to the local humane society. During my time at Furman, I had visited one of Greenville's animal shelters to play with the puppies, and I know how important volunteers are to organizations like these. I figured Bill and I could play with the puppies, maybe look into how to go about adopting one, etc. Once there, we found a group of three puppies (two girls and their brother) who had just been brought in. They were only 8 weeks old and ADORABLE. I'm talking the kind of adorable that made me want to put all three of them in my purse and run. Bill and I were able to take all three of them into an open pen and play around with them. Right away, Bill and I both fell in love with the little boy. These dogs were some kind of black lab/border collie/terrier mix, and while the two sisters looked like baby labs, the boy puppy had the scruffiest little face. We were hooked. This dog had chewed on my purse and almost peed on my foot, so you know it must have been love if I still wanted him. Bill and I filled out the applications that day and the next week of waiting was awful. What if we didn't get him?! The Forsyth County Humane Society actually takes adoptions very seriously - they called our references, even! But soon it was August 5th and we were taking him home! Originally named Guy, we changed his name to Sensei. First off, because he just plain looked like that should be his name; secondly, because Bill and I met at the karate school where Bill was a sensei (it means "teacher" in Japanese). We love telling people his name, because if they get it, they think it is so cool! We did debate for about a day whether we should name him Splinter, after the rat from TMNT, since he has that whole scruffy beard thing going on.
And from that day on, I became a dog person. And you know Bill is, too. I'm that girl that takes pictures of my dog constantly, Bill takes him to puppy classes and videotapes him being crazy, I know some of Bill's neighbors only because of their own dogs, we go to dog parks and bond with other owners - it's a whole different culture I never knew existed. I love this puppy so much (can I still call him a puppy? He's so big now! And old.) that I brag on him, and talk to him like a person, and I promise you, Bill and I treat him like he's our child. Seriously. When I talk to Sensei about Bill, I call him "your daddy." And on this Friday, May 28, our little dude is turning a year old (see what I mean about pretending he is a person!) So here's a little nostalgic shot of the day we brought him home...
And here he is last week! He's grown from 9 pounds to 32 and among other tricks, will shake your hand when asked :)
And I must say: if you are at all thinking about getting a pet, please please please go to the humane society. They do great things there, they are always overcrowded, and these pets just need some lovin' like everyone else does! Sensei has been such an awesome blessing in our lives and he is just so cool. There's no other word for him, and I can't imagine what I would do with all my time if I couldn't hang out with that puppy. Even if you can't adopt an animal right now, think about volunteering time with the animal shelter or supporting events like Woofstock. The humane society website has lots of ways you can help!