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The Best Golden Birthday

I never understood people without dogs. When they drop a piece of their food on the ground they have to pick it up by themselves and that’s just a lot of effort.

The first dog to win my heart was a gentle giant by the name of Brady. Admittedly, I was a toddler so anything was huge in comparison, but even looking at pictures now, Brady (pictured below) was his own kind of beast. To quote my brother, “Brady looks straight out of Narnia.” He was a great dog – afraid of everything but lovely to the core. When he was four and I not much older, he had to be put down because of canine leukemia.

The second dog to win my heart was a puppy named Carson who – the first time he saw my backyard, fell off the porch in an unceremonious heap. I was ten years old and appalled when my next door neighbor asked me to play the next day. Couldn’t she see I had a puppy? I didn’t leave his side for weeks. Oh, I’d play of course. I’d play in the yard and the house and pretty much everywhere as long as I had the tiny dog (pictured below) by my side.

From that day forward, Carson was my best friend. He laid under my desk as I turned in homework assignments in middle school and he ran with me as I prepared for cross country season in high school. He was the first person to hear all my stories and all my secrets and the only one to lick my face if I was crying (thankfully; it’s absolutely only acceptable if a dog does this).

There’s something really incredible about a dog. I could spend days telling stories about Carson – how he is trained to run to the end of the drive way each morning to get the newspaper or how he likes to get pushed around in wheelbarrows, wagons, sleds, etc. I could write pages about how he’s the most photogenic animal I’ve ever seen and how he is smart enough to genuinely understand the basic rules of Hide and Go Seek in the house.

But rather, I want to talk about why I love him so much. You see Carson isn’t just the little brother I never had – he’s the best friend everyone needs. This goes for all dogs of course. We love dogs because they show us an unparalleled amount of love every single day. No matter what.

I’ve yelled at Carson. Still loves me.

I’ve accidentally tripped over him when he was sleeping. Still loves me.

I don’t always stop everything I’m doing when he walks through the door and jump up and down and scream and bring him a toy as a present. Still loves me.

My college friends always used to joke that in our “friend group” dynamic everyone had a role. I was affectionately (I think) labeled “the dog.” Why?

Because when someone would walk in my door, I would jump up with a hug, a smile, and an eager-to-hear-about-their-day face. Because I could run on boundless energy for what seemed like ever if I was provided good companionship. Because I was excited by everything (not squirrels and tennis balls) but the little human things that we sometimes overlook – basically all the little things that I’ve been chronicling in 5 + years of Happiness is posts.

And so I think we should all be a little more “dog.” Quick to forgive. Eager to love. Grateful for something as simple as a walk.

Today is my perfect dog’s 11th birthday. 11 on the 11th meaning it is also his special birthday (or as I’ve also heard, his “golden” birthday). He is a golden retriever. Basically this is a paragraph of me trying to tell you how important my dog and his double golden birthday are.

Even though you’ll never read this, happy birthday, Carson. I love you more than any amount of cornfield walks could demonstrate.

Love always,


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