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Topher’s Second Birthday

Last year, when I wrote Topher a small letter for his first birthday, I didn’t really stop to wonder what the upcoming year would bring. When we decided to adopt a dog, grand adventures (things bigger than your average hike or road trip) weren’t really anywhere on our list of reasons why. I figured Topher’s second year would play out about like our first few months had: fun, but not especially eventful—he would settle in, and be our dog.

Then the attack happened, and I found myself in deeper into dog ownership than I ever anticipated being in the first six months of owning our pup. To keep Topher from losing his eye, I spent nearly six weeks as, essentially, a nursemaid. I administered eye drops eight to ten times per day at first. We went to to the vet, and then the ophthalmologist, on a near weekly basis. I almost danced out of the office in April, when they said we wouldn’t need to come for another check-in for three months. There are vet technicians on the list of “people I should probably send Christmas gifts this year,” and for good reason. While Topher is blind in one eye, we have all these wonderful people to thank for keeping him from losing it entirely—saving us all from the stress of putting a one year old pup through a major surgery.

After Topher’s eye injury stabilized around March, I was keen on getting back to the way things were. Only, that didn’t really happen. We needed to address things—Topher’s even higher anxiety around dogs, his leash reactivity, etc. So instead, we settled into a new “normal.” We give him eyedrops everyday, attend regular training classes, I walk Topher in parks instead in our neighborhood, and sometimes, I yell at other dog owners to keep their pets on leashes.

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With all that, you might think this past year has been all downs, all trials and hard times. But it hasn’t been. Ninety percent of the time, Topher is the same as he was in those first five or six months before the attack—loving, playful, and completely goofy. On most walks, he’s a perfect gentleman. Strangers comment in passing about how mild-mannered he is, walking sedately on a leash at my side, almost never pulling (almost, because he really wants to get after the occasional squirrel that passes too closely). Topher’s separation anxiety has also greatly diminished in the last year, which we’re thrilled about. While he still has puppy-levels of excitement in droves, and some reactive issues, we can see his improvement over time and it’s encouraging.

So this year, a day after Topher’s second birthday, I am wondering what the next year will bring us. Though, I know now that we can handle it, I do kind of hope it’s a little less eventful. Or, I hope it’s eventful in entirely new, different, and less trying ways. We’ll see what happens. I think it’s going to be great.

Lucy Bennett

Lucy is a writer, artist, and Hufflepuff currently living in Atlanta, Ga. When not making things, she enjoys costuming, tabletop games, and digging in the dirt.

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