Dear Kensi, My Other Baby, on Your 9th Birthday,

Happy Birthday, Kensi, the best dog in the world! You have been with us through a lot over the years, and you have always remained sweet, loving, and loyal, the best of canine qualities.You were the dog I always wanted, and I fought to get you. My husband (your dad), Bobby, didn’t want a dog, never had one, and as far as he knew, didn’t like them. It’s hard to believe that now. You made him a dog lover. He frequents Pet Smart to buy you the best dog food available, takes you to your vet visits (has even become friends with the vet), takes you to the groomer, gives you your healthy skin pill every morning, cleans up your “business” in the yard, gives you treats, lets you kiss him on the face, and insists on including you on his walks with the baby. You consider him your true master, the alpha male, and you greet him at the door when he comes home. Sometimes, when I call you over to me, you go over to him instead.Bobby and I had been married almost a year when I was finally able to convince him to get a dog. I needed one. At that time my dad had terminal cancer, and I was going through a tough time. Bobby knew that a dog would be a comfort to me, and he gave in and let me get one. We went to a place called Beagles and Buddies, a rescue where our friends had adopted a Pomeranian. We intended to get an older, smaller, already trained dog.

But when I saw you, a puppy, of most likely a larger breed, and obviously untrained, I had to have you. Bobby hesitantly agreed, and we took you home. That first night, we got you into your crate, which we placed in the family room, right outside of our bedroom. You cried and cried and screeched and hollered until we finally got up and went to you, and noticed that, we’ll just say, you “had an accident” in the crate. We were up cleaning out the crate at 3 o’clock in the morning. As you’d expect, Bobby wasn’t pleased.

We continued to crate train you, with the crate in our bedroom, and over time it went well. We made it through kennel cough, mange, potty training accidents on the carpet, and lots of chewed up stuff. You even chewed through the sprinkler wires in the backyard. There were times early on that Bobby made it known that he wasn’t too sure about the decision to get you. I kept reminding him that the puppy stage lasts a short amount of time, and then for many years, you get a great dog. I was right!

You and I went through dog training twice. You were more spirited and distracted than some of the other dogs in the class (we were told you were likely a mixture of Border Collie and possibly Springer Spaniel, and maybe even some Australian Shepherd, all energetic yet smart breeds). You were often more interested in socializing with the other dogs than obeying the commands “stay” or “come,” or walking on a leash without pulling and zigzagging all over the place. Although, to this day, you do a mean routine of “sit, high five, down, shake a paw” – as long as there’s a treat involved.

When my dad passed away, you brought me tremendous comfort. When I would cry, you’d be there right by me, taking in my emotions, calming me, and at times, distracting me from my grief. I would play fetch with you (which you never really learned to play correctly and always turned into a game of tug-of-war), take you for a walk, or just pet you.

When we moved up to Monterey, you quickly adjusted to your new lifestyle. In fact, I think it was a pretty good time period for you. We’d take you everywhere with us, to the beach, even restaurants. Monterey and neighboring Carmel are very dog-friendly. For a while, you and I would go on daily long walks along the coast. We had a few close calls with some aggressive stray dogs and just-as-aggressive, yet not as scary, honking geese.

You were fine with our subsequent move to Ventura. We now had a much smaller backyard, but you didn’t seem to mind. You were getting older and didn’t need quite as much room to run around. Plus, you still had plenty of opportunities to bark at the opossums that walk along the fence at night.

Eventually, I got pregnant. The day I went into labor, you were there, concerned, scared. You sensed my pain, and you stayed by me. When I went to the hospital and didn’t come home for a few days, you were sad. You wouldn’t eat. You’d stare at the door, waiting. The last time you had seen me I was in pain, and now I was gone. What you must have been thinking.

When I came home, I went outside and spent time with you. You were so happy and excited to see me. You never once thought to hold it against me that I left you there worried and scared.

And then, I brought you inside to meet our new family member. You weren’t sure what to think. You were confused. Who, what, was this? Why were we giving it so much attention? Where did you fit into all of this?

For a while, you were left out. You would bring us a toy, and we wouldn’t play catch/tug-of-war with you. You would stay back, watching, like an outsider, wondering what you had done wrong. Was this how life would be from now on? The baby would cry, we would respond, at all hours of the day and night. Life was different now.

You got used to this stranger, who is now very interested in you (don’t worry, I will protect you from her curiosity). You, as always, have adjusted well. You saw that there was room in our home and our hearts for you and her, and you are still very much involved in our lives. As I write this, you are lying right next to my feet, just as you have so many numerous times before. Thank you for being a constant companion, for being so patient, forgiving, and resilient. I look forward to many more years with you. You will always be my first baby, my puppy, and the best dog there ever was.

Lori (your mom)


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