It has been a year since Tom and I adopted our "practice baby." She has been our constant companion, alarm clock, and resident kisser. When we got her she was a gangly, scared 22 pound puppy. She jumped out of the van of her rescuers and ran over to Tom and me. After hesitantly sniffing us out and falling off of the curb, she cemented herself as the cornerstone in my life and in Tom's.
That first week with Elli was the hardest. I had never had an inside dog, except for when I was little and had no idea how much work was involved. My mom was not happy about us getting Elli, since we had only been in our apartment for less than a week. However unhappy she was when she found out, with her first look at the clumsy, gangly mess that was Elli she was instantly hooked on her "grand-dog." Another difficulty of the first week with Elli was that Tom went back to Virginia for spring break. I work nights so I had to leave our new, still-scared puppy home alone. We purchased a travel kennel that zipped up because we knew that she had to be kennel trained. Boy, did we underestimated the brains that the tiny puppy possessed! I zipped Elli up in the kennel and went back into the bedroom to finish getting ready for work and here comes Elli bounding around the corner. I thought "hey maybe I didn't securely zip her up" so I finished getting ready and put her back in the kennel but took a few extra precautions by adding two huge tubs to the entry to the kitchen with a baby gate on top and two barstools caddy-corner to the barricade. I thought there was no way POSSIBLE that dog could get out. Again, I was sadly mistaken. I got home from work in the wee hours of the morning and there was Elli, sitting on the couch "watching" television. She had busted out of her prison, knocked over a lamp, broken a picture frame, and turned the television on. I knew from that moment my life had completely changed.
Elli is still the clumsy puppy that she was on the day we got her, but now she is a 65 pound clumsy puppy which means it hurts a lot more when she runs in to you! She still manages the occasional Houdini escape from her prison, but it has only happened a handful of times. The most recent was when I was at home over Christmas. She had gotten a Christmas present from Grandma Amy of a new, improved wire kennel that folds down smaller than her bulky airplane kennel that is on loan from Tom's parents. I put it together and put her in it so that I could go to my mom's work Christmas party. When I got back home, I looked into the back door and there was Elli waiting for me with her tail just a-wagging. I thought "Oh my goodness, that dog has eaten the Christmas tree, ornaments, and presents and my mom is going to disown me and then kill me!!" I walked through the house looking for the inevitable destruction and any bodily functions that she could have done out of anger of being left at home alone. The only form of damage was to her new kennel...she had broken the tray in the bottom (easily fixed with some pretty pink duct tape and some fancy ribbon to keep the tray from sliding out again) and she had some how made it collapse upon itself. It looked like she had banged it against the wall long enough to make it fall apart! I was in shock! Maybe she is actually learning to be a good dog! Maybe I am being a good "parent" to my baby and she is becoming a loving respectful puppy!
A year ago, I had know idea what Tom and I were getting into. Elli had radically changed our relationship, but in the best way possible. We have managed to care for and more importantly keep alive a living being for a year. I cannot even keep plants alive! I could not imagine our lives without her; I can't even remember what we talked about before she came into our lives. She shapes our days and we are so appreciative for our little angel. Tom's dad put it best by calling her our "practice baby." Elli has made us realize that other things are more important than our selfish needs and that we must value everyday we have together!