It took a few years for us to even think about getting another pet after Rain. She was the best cat. The type of cat that was completely happy if you left her alone as long as you left food and water and cleaned her litter box. She would snuggle with audibly purring. A cat that cleaned herself so often she was as soft as a kitten her whole life. It was hard saying goodbye. We still miss her hard just mentioning her name to each other. There are pictures of her throughout the house and she has a permanent place on our mantle. When we left San Francisco, we left many of our memories with her there so thinking of our time there will forever be linked.
A new chapter in Georgia has meant seeing my side of the family more normal than it’s so often. It’s created new memories and new traditions. This year was the first year hanging lights on our house from an uncomfortable height. I’m calling it phase one of my Clark Griswold projects. I’ve got a BBQ smoker that I enjoy both creating meals for ourselves and for others.
The last year has been uniquely different. Not just another year of COVID like the rest of the world. It’s been different for us since we added River to the family. She’s a black Labrador from Virginia. We’ve talked about getting a dog for a very long time. I’ve always wanted one since growing up with dogs my whole life. We’ve waited due to the challenges of having a dog with apartment life for so many years. Having a cat is super easy in an apartment. I don’t know how others can manage a dog in those tiny apartments in the Bay Area.
We got River as a puppy a few months after she was born. We knew we would need some help having never raised a puppy so we leverage professionals. My cousin is a professional trainer, so we left River with her to go through puppy training before we even met her. We connected through shared photos and adorable videos. We watched from a distance seeing her learn her name, how to follow basic commands, and the other natural behavior to be house-trained. There is little chance we would enjoy figuring all of that out on our own. Picking up a 3-month-old puppy who knew her name when you called her and could inform you when she needed to go out was so nice.
The following three months were still rough. Her tiny puppy bladder needed attention about every 3-4 hours, so that meant very little sleep for us. It was tough.
At seven months old we drove back to Virginia for more training. This was more off-leash training and learning advanced commands. When we picked her up again a month later…yes, it felt like forever…she was a whole new dog. We both loved the new experiences the training had unlocked. We could now run around in the yard together, play with throwing and retrieving sticks and balls, and the real challenges of sitting and staying in one place until released with a single command. Game changer.
She is now a year old and getting so big. Her size seems to change depending on how she behaves. Sometimes curled into a ball and seems tiny. Other times she’s stretched out on the floor and we can’t fathom she’s the same dog. She loves eating and we enjoy training her in those feeding opportunities. She loves walking so much we can’t even use the word in passing as it might trigger the zoomies around the house. She loves us both, but I’m clearly her favorite. The only challenge we have is her strong desire to see her boyfriend (neighbor’s puppy behind our house) to the point where all the training instantly evaporates when she sees him. I’m thinking we might need either a fence or more professional training to control that behavior. She has been pure joy for us. Having her has limited our spontaneous behavior to go places, but it’s not like anyone is really doing much traveling this year. Her least favorite time is when she is in her crate waiting for us to return from the occasional “can’t bring you with us” errand around town. But, when we return, no matter if it is an hour or half the day, her joy to see us is always overwhelming. Her little wiggle butt dance, while she digs her head between your knees so you can pet her, might be the cutest experience we both share several times a day.
We love her and she has helped fill some of the voids that Rain left behind. Part of me feels that is more of a continuous love for Rain that we now have with River.

River at 1 month
River at 1 year