Dear Nelson,

A year ago today, I signed the paperwork at the pound to bring you home.  During the drive home, a story on Willie Nelson aired on NPR. In that moment, you became  Mr. Willie Nelson Mandela.

Nelson: year 1

You were abandoned at the night drop with no ID, wearing just a thin black leather collar. No chip. (Those fools!) You seemed as ready to shake that joint as I was. Lethargic in your pound cage with a bunch of other dogs crowding your space, you soon bounced back to life. I brought you to a home that was new to me too, and we played in the backyard. I swear you were smiling.

Willie Nelson Mandela

You lasted all of three nights in the kennel before you firmly staked your claim at the end of my bed. You’ve been there ever since.


So here’s the thing, dog. I rolled my eyes at those crazy pet people for 31 years before you showed up. I pointed at their stupid bumper stickers. I chided their devotion, reminding friends that “they are just pets.” And well, then you had to come along and shake up my cynicism. You’ve made me better many ways. You make me exercise when I really, really don’t want to. Even when it is snowy. You make me smile first thing every morning when you nuzzle up against me and paw at my arm. You make me feel all warm and silly every single time I come to the door and I’m greeted like, “Oh my! You came back! I thought you’d never ever ever ever ever come back!” No matter if I’ve been gone to get the mail, or haven’t seen you in a few days.

Never mind I wasted $100 on obedience classes and another $80 on a bed bed you laid on all of one time:

New bed day

You still bark at the postman like he stole your favorite toy. And you still love to greet me sitting at the front mat with a tail wagging, proud of your latest escape from the back yard. The best obedience class for you has been time. You’ve chilled out and even occasionally make dog friends these days. (A rather nice improvement from your  previous “I WILL HUMP YOU ALL” dog park policy.)

Happy dog

Don’t get me wrong — you aren’t all peaches and cream. You are a boy tried and true. Your taste for woodland animal excrement is unbelievable. I will never understand why nothing makes you happier than rolling around in another animal’s poop. You also like skunk. And there was that time you got fleas. Well, we got fleas.

New hat for Duda

Halloween 2011

But let’s be honest, Nels. Every time I rub your belly and you flash that sweet smile? Well. I know you were meant to be my furry companion. To a great year of ridiculous photo sessions, hikes, car trips, walks, squirrel chases and morning snuggles.

Nelson: year 1

You are, without question, the best dog ever.


Tall Lady

P.S. Yes, you can have a few friends over for a party in the backyard to celebrate your 3rd birthday, 1st year with me. Yes, I am making treat bags. Yes, I do plan on both your Uncle Cody and your Uncle Adam to ridicule me. You’re worth it.