This week Jude celebrated his 7th birthday. Seven years. Close to a decade with our boy. That time has gone so fast.
I will never forget the first night we brought him home. I lived in a quaint Clintonville duplex with my two best friends. Jude cried all night long that first night, and the 4 of us just sat on the bathroom floor laughing/crying repeating "what the hell have I done!?"
Since then, Jude has lived in 5 houses, with 7 different roommates, and snuggled us all about as much as he's made us crazy.
I've been a dog lover for as long as I can remember. I have a very vivid memory one Christmas while I was in high school printing photos of dogs and taping them all over the places my parents frequented most in our house, just so they wouldn't forget I really wanted Santa to bring me a puppy.
When Jude came into our lives on my 21st birthday, he did not disappoint. He quickly became the missing member of our family... And when I say family I mean all my best friends and their boyfriends and of course the start of Nick and I. He was the only boy at girls night, had a few too many PBR's, and snuggled better than any other beating heart I've ever met.
Have you ever had a pet that you feel so immensely connected to, you almost have your own language. I feel like he was meant for me. That he was a piece of my heart that was always missing. I always know what he's thinking. I always know how he feels. I always know what he needs. He has slept in the nook of my belly every night for the last 2,555 days. He has one black whisker that falls out about once every two months, but always grows back. The smell of him brings me a comfort I didn't know was possible. I love the spots on his pig belly, that his ears are softer than the rest of his body, the spot so perfectly placed on the top of his head, that his toes always smell like freshly cut grass, that he will lay in the middle of the driveway when its 90 degrees in the heat of the Summer letting the sun beat down on him, that he will sit with whatever I stick on his head and smile so I can get the photo. He lives for family movie days, or binge watching Mad Men. He's anxious and nervous and excited and the biggest pain in my butt, but somehow I forgive him as quick as he pisses me off.
Jude has been with us through some of the best times in life, and some of the worst. He has been my best friend through it all. Most of our best moments with Jude weren't even moments at all... Just us all in bed. But there have certainly been some memorable ones. Liiiiiike the first week we moved into our new house on acreage and we thought we lost Jude... We ran through the woods, drove all over town, I cried and screamed for him to come back and we found him in our sunroom 4 hours later where he was the whole time. Or the time we went to pick pumpkins and he was just a few months old and I rolled his neck up in the window and almost killed him. Or when he ate $65 worth of vegan Easter cookies I spent an entire day slaving away on. Or the time we tried to take him to Hocking Hills and he was so terrified he literally screamed the entire hike. Didn't bark. Screamed and cried. Or the time he ate 5 raw chicken breasts off the counter and was literally sick as a dog for 24+ hours. Or the time he basically ate everything all the time. Hershey kisses, my best friends red velvet birthday cake, dry pasta, PBR, 24 cupcakes and the foil wrapping, full meals I've made and turned my back on. The man eats good.
Our 7 years with him have been incredible. I didn't know love like this existed. Jude loves us so unconditionally. So much that I can be infuriated with him, scream and yell, walk out the door, forget my keys, come back in 15 seconds later and he's jumping up on me wagging his tail. His forgiveness is constant, and his love knows no bounds. He doesn't care if I've showered, if I have on makeup, if the house is clean or dirty. He loves us in our rawest forms, with no conditions.
Jude has always been our baby. And he will always be our first born. But I know things will change when his human brother arrives. And when we are exhausted and frustrated I hope he knows it is just a season and that we still love him wholeheartedly. He is our munchie, our gumpy, our noodle our buddy and nothing will ever change that.
Happy 7th Birthday Jude.
2017's birthday portrait.