In the last few days, I suddenly realized that our family has a milestone coming up; next week, our giant sweetie of a dog, Leo will turn four years old.
On the day four years ago when Jon and I brought an adorable Great Pyrenees puppy home to infant C, 10 year old E, 12 year old J and 16 year old Henry, there was absolutely no way any of us could have predicted the overwhelming changes that our family would experience over the next 48 months. On that warm, late winter afternoon, all four kids were so excited, and we all felt like nothing terrible could ever happen to our happy gaggle of people who loved one another.
We stayed outside in the yard playing with the new puppy until it grew so dark and he became so tired that we had to take him inside for the night. And then the three oldest snuggled up with puppy Leo on the couch, squabbling about who got to hold him. Henry insisted on having the puppy sleep in his bed with him that first night, which lasted until about 2am when Leo woke up whimpering and wanting to be taken out, at which point my sleepy teenager returned him to me for the remainder of that first night.
We all fell in love with Leo immediately, and he’s become a very special part of our family. Two little girls have now learned to walk clutching his fur and pulling up on him, and in the days and weeks right after Henry died – when I could not get out of bed or leave my dark bedroom – Leo never left my side. He just lay quietly on the floor and listened to me as I wept and wailed, sometimes ambling over to the side of the bed to let me hug on his giant head.
It really just seems like yesterday when Leo came home, looking like a white baby polar bear. But four years for a dog – especially a large breed dog like a Great Pyrenees – means that he’s hitting the very beginning of his middle age, which is really hard to believe. I still kind of think of him as a pup – but he’s not.
Leo is four years old.
J is 16.
E is 14.
C is four years old, just like her big white pal.
G – who wasn’t even a gleam in our eye when Leo came home – is 19 months old.
And Henry is gone. Our sweet boy who was so excited about the new puppy… is gone.
Happy Birthday to Leo, a Very Good Dog who has been a real rock for our whole family during a period of overwhelming change and evolution. Here’s to many more years of you lying here at my feet, snoozing and snoring as I write, just as you are right this very moment.
(Click the photo or the arrow to the right to start a slideshow with my favorite photos of Leo from puppyhood ’til today.)
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Have you ever had a special dog who meant a lot to you during a difficult or change-filled period of your life? If so, I’d love to hear about him/her.
READ MORE FROM KATIE OVER AT MAMAPUNDIT (HER PERSONAL BLOG)