Dear Louis,

My homework assignment for work is to write you a letter. Of all my dogs, I decided to start with a letter to you because out of our pack you and I have been together the longest. Can you believe we have had so many years together.

I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for letting me be your dog mom. I think many people say they are a dog mom but very few stand in the operating room of a C-section and have their new puppy handed to them straight from birth. Thank you for allowing me to be the very best true dog mom I know. Teaching you everything about being a dog I could. Turns out you ended up quite normal....for a Frenchie.

Thank you for teaching me the importance of working through problems and not just giving in to something that seems easier at the time. That if you don't work things all the way through the garbage will come back to haunt you again later.

Thank you for your trust in me. For always trusting that I'm in control, that I will protect you, and that I know the rules about how things should go. Even when you don't want to do something you trust that I know what's best and follow my lead. I want you to know I don't take that responsibility lightly.

I admire your ability to find peace in the routine, your confidence that everyone on earth loves you, and your determination to have everything your own way even though you continually have to do everything my way.

Without you I would never have known that I could be the meanest Frenchie, or that lunchtime cuddles are a necessity of life. I was worried about adding more dogs to our house when Ripley came into the family but I shouldn't have. You have happily accepted all the new dogs in our pack without incident. Thanks again for all the good and the difficult times. I know you will believe me when I say, "You are a good Boy!"

Dear Ripley,
It seems only yesterday that the stars aligned for you to become a member of our pack. My how the years have flown by! I wanted to write you to let you know I appreciate your friendship. You are a true and constant companion following me everywhere throughout the day and staying by my side when I sleep.

Thank you for your constant state of joy. I've never experienced a dog that is so joyful about everything. When I think of the kind of dog I so longed for as a child I can say without a doubt that you are it. Every quality so many people look for in a dog are embodied with brilliance in all your 12 lbs of sheer dog. I think this is due mostly to a few key facts 1) your joy is to be with me through everything 2) your serious purpose as a dog is to find the fun in whatever is happening 3) It is your personal view that everything that occurs in any given day and at any given time is an adventure and should be appreciated as such. The way you see the world is magic to me. Whether that be your obvious need to bark at the neighbors cat to alert me that it still lives next door or your wonder and determination in helping Mike dig a hole in the back yard (because he obviously needs your help). Every day is special and new when viewed through your eyes so thank you for giving me a look.

I admire that you don't care what anyone thinks. That you have a sense of trouble. (And when trouble finds you, blame it on someone else.) And that above all you are a friend to whoever needs one. I appreciated this most when scary Louis was the one in need of a friend. You, little one, are not afraid of anything. You have the tenacity of a tiger! Your ability to fit in with others is uncanny and I find most of my time is spent keeping visitors (and my sisters) from stealing you away for themselves.

Sometimes you are just in your own world and for that reason sometimes it has taken a while to learn something new, but I'm proud of you and the things we have accomplished. Thank you for all the fun we have had together.

Dear Dutch,
We've come a long way since we first met. I can't believe so many years ago you came into my life because someone thought you were ugly. You are not ugly.

First and foremost, thank you for seeing me as your partner. I think many people want this kind of relationship with their dog. It is very powerful to be united together in a purpose. You trusted me to be your partner and follow my lead when asked before we really even knew each other. When the citiest-city-girl decides it would be a GREAT idea to go and herd cows, she is going to require a special dog. I'm glad that you were able to see something special in me, to trust that we could work together to accomplish a job.

I admire your willingness to show kindness and affection to others when only one holds your heart. I admire your ability to find courage in a friend in order to overcome the things that scare you. I admire that your true love is to be a part of a team. I admire that you are smart enough to get what you want.

Sometimes I wonder what we would have become if we hadn't found each other. Would you have been able to reach your full potential as a herding dog as part of another team? Would I have been able to try something new and totally different as a person and as a trainer? I suppose it's lucky we didn't have to find out.

It's really special in life to find a partner you can connect with and then work together toward the same goals. I'm glad I found that in you.

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