Today on Parker’s 12th Gotcha Day I can’t help but reflect (tearfully!) on our twelve years together so far. Growing up I never had my own dog. I had horses, and was always around dogs and had cats at home, but my Dad made us choose- horses or dogs. Don’t get me wrong- my Dad LOVED dogs, he had just never had dogs that were the appropriate breed for his lifestyle, so he never knew how to enjoy owning his own dog.
When I got to college and out on my own I knew I had to get a dog. I had no doubt my first dog would be a Pomeranian. Growing up I voraciously watched dog shows, studied breeds and knew that a Pom was the dog that would fit my lifestyle. In high school when Mr. Winkle became famous that face cemented to me that a Pom was it for me! The first celebrity Pom, and a rescue nonetheless, Mr. Winkle’s big brown eyes and fluffy fur made me long for a Pom of my own.
I searched and searched for the right Pom. I applied to rescue after rescue and was turned down over and over. Back then rescues weren’t too keen on adopting to college kids. I understand why- it’s a time of change, moving, transition in one’s life, and I’m sure sometimes people transition out of wanting to have a dog. It took a long time, but I found Parker, then Smokey, in Kentucky.
He was six weeks old at the time, ready to go home in 3 weeks. My roommate and I made the trip to Indianapolis where we met the foster mom. I was 21 years old. Parker was 9 weeks old. We both had no idea what we were doing. Hurricane Katrina was just hitting New Orleans. I remember staying up with my new puppy that didn’t want to sleep and watching the news.
My parents were still not thrilled with the idea of me getting a dog. My Mom, who now has 5 dogs of her own, even said to me at one point that she would rather me have a baby than get a dog! That was until they met tiny, 3lb Parker.
The day after I picked him up we headed to my parent’s house about an hour outside of Purdue. My dad was suffering from Early-Onset Alzheimer’s at the time. I remember opening the door, walking in to my parent’s kitchen and both of them just melting.
A few weeks later I came down with a very, very serious case of mono. The doctor at the student health said it was one of the worst outbreaks of mono they had seen and told me I would have to leave school that semester to get healthy again. My mom drove down, packed Parker and I up and drove us back to Chicago. That was when the love affair between Parker and his Grandma began. I was really sick. I was going to my doctor’s office every day for IV fluids. My Mom was balancing me, my father’s Alzheimer’s AND puppy training. She is a saint!
Parker was amazing around my Dad. My father, once a well-known surgeon, was in the late stages of a valiant battle against the evil that is Early-Onset Alzheimer’s disease. Parker, who my dad just called his “buddy,” loved sitting in my Dad’s lap and sharing bagels. When Parker was a year and a half old we lost my father unexpectedly as a result of the disease.
In our twelve years together Parker has been with me through so much- losing my dad, my grandma, Chewie. Adding Jack and Bebe to the family, then losing them. Adding Oliver and Rachel to the family. We’ve moved countless times. Traveled the country together. We have experienced a lot.
At 12 years old Parker is as spunky and vivacious as he was as a puppy. His joints are creakier, his hair not as full and vibrant as it was before. But the same look he had when we first set eyes on each other is still there. We may have no idea what we’re doing as we go through life together, but we’re glad we get to do it together.