A little over a year ago, my boyfriend bought a dog.

It was a Saturday morning in January. I woke up around seven and sent Lincoln the usual good morning text. Expecting him to still be asleep, I was surprised when he quickly replied. I picked up my phone to read: “I’m getting a dog today.”

I didn’t really know what to think, but I got dressed and raced over to his house. The door was unlocked, so I walked into his living room to find him sitting on the couch, laptop on his lap and phone in his hand, calling every number he could find for chocolate lab advertisements. After a lot of disappointment, one number texted him back with some good news. They had one chocolate lab puppy and if we came today with cash, he could be ours. Lincoln immediately replied “yes.”

He pulled out his wallet to count his money, quickly realizing he didn’t have enough cash to afford the puppy. Knowing how much he wanted a dog, I lent him some cash I had saved and he promised to pay me back. We set out to run a few errands to prepare for the puppy. After Lincoln bought a collar, we stood in front of the machine that engraves nameplates and waited for one to come out with the puppy’s new name on it.

Remington.

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Photo Credit: Laura Grace Pustmueller

It was about an hour drive to pick up Remington and I don’t think Lincoln stopped smiling that entire car ride. As we headed back to Waco with his new best friend, I really was not sure what to expect. I was excited, nervous and skeptical, knowing that I would have to devote a lot of my time to this dog.

At this point, we had only been dating for two months, so friends were not very encouraging. “Did you and Lincoln really get a dog together?” and “How long have y’all been dating?” were typical questions, but the best one was, “Who’s going to keep him when y’all break up?” I always defended myself, saying that it was Lincoln’s dog and that Lincoln paid for him, but as the months have passed and I’ve spent an entire year with Remington, it feels like he’s my dog too.  

I certainly treat him as my own. I look forward to seeing him every day. I take photo after photo of him and share more pictures of him on Instagram and Facebook than I post of myself. He is the cutest dog with the biggest personality and I never thought I would be able to love a dog as much as I love him. He teaches me lessons daily — lessons that I think everyone should take to heart and strive to live by.

Love everyone.

Remington loves meeting people, turning complete strangers into new friends. He greets everyone he sees with an open-mouthed smile and a wagging tail. In a group of people, he says “hi” to everyone and spreads his love evenly. As for Lincoln and me, Remington is overjoyed to see us, whether we’ve been gone five minutes or five hours. He knows the importance of making others feel loved and special.

Find joy in the little things.

Remington’s best characteristic is his unconditional joy. He wakes up each morning happy and playful, thrilled for a new day. Even though he eats the same food day and night, he is just as excited for each meal. Anytime he gets a treat or a new toy, he acts like a kid on Christmas morning. His thankfulness for each gift is inspiring and his joyful spirit is contagious, never failing to put a smile on someone’s face.

Care deeply for others.

I’m not quite sure how, but Remington can sense when someone is upset. If you’re crying, he will come cuddle up next to you and let you pet him. Sometimes he’ll even try to lick the tears off your face. He’ll bring one of his toys over for the two of you to play together, attempting to take your mind off of your sadness like any good friend would do.

Long walks make any day better.

If Remington could talk, I have no doubt that he would say his favorite thing is going on walks. Walks are one of the best ways to slow down in our fast-paced lives, to disconnect from our phones and spend quality time with others. They are good for the soul, and especially good for Remington’s soul.

Remington loves and cares deeply for those around him while living his life with child-like silliness and genuine joy. At one year old, he knows more about what being a friend means than I do. Though I was nervous about it at first, especially after having my mom preach to me about how having a dog in college was a terrible idea, I am so glad Lincoln impulsively decided he needed a dog that random Saturday morning. Life’s too short to not have a dog.

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Laura Grace, Remington and Lincoln on Lincoln’s Birthday

Photo Credit: Clara Ruth West