My dear tiny darling Rocco
I was going to say I love you more than you know, but I know that you do know.
But ... almost seven years ago now, I really didn't know.
Didn't know anything.
We did that long journey back from Portsmouth and I got you home and you went into the sleeping bag I'd got you (on our friend Georgia's advice) and you looked at me as if to say, 'what is going on here? Where am I?' and I could only look back at you thinking, 'I have no idea what I've just done, how would I know what's going on?!'
Everyone says getting a puppy changes your life and I imagine most people, like me, think 'yeah yeah, I know I know'. But oh it does.
It changes everything.
It took me a while to understand - but it didn't take you a while - you just loved me straight away, rubbish though I was at looking after you.
But then I got some seriously good help!
We had puppy training with Winkie Spiers (and Rocs, your face - it was like, 'at last - someone who knows what they're doing!') and then you started going to doggie daycare and things started falling into place.
(I love that you love doggie creche so much that sometimes you drag me there on a Sunday when it's closed and how every Monday morning your walk becomes a gallop the nearer we get).
But oh - then your adolescence ...
I remember being in the park thinking, 'I just don't know if I can do this' when you were a few months old. Started talking to a girl with her dog and she reassured me that things got easier, 'when they're about two'.
TWO?! I didn't know if I could get through that day.
But my tiny dog, you're now seven years old.
And I love you more every day.
Some days I just sit and watch you sleep and can't think of anything cuter or more beautiful.
I love how you are OBSESSED with burrowing and snuggling into the comfiest places you can find.
When I let you sleep in the bed with me at night I love how you stretch out along my leg and if you want to move away you push away with your paws so your paws remain touching me. I love how you always want to be connected to me.
And I love how you communicate so well.
You have really tried and found a way to express yourself - even though it means some days you're just the Tiny Dictator and I run around trying to do everything you want me to do.
You have a special little deep growl which means you need me to do something for you - get a ball out from under the sofa, give you the treat I forgot was on the table that you've been eyeing up for ages, lift your dish because there's one more biscuit that somehow got underneath.
You ask for your travel bag when it's raining outside as you just don't 'do' rain.
I love how you jump to catch bubbles, and snap to catch dust motes.
I love that you put your neck down to ask me to massage it.
I love how you chatter at squirrels up trees (what you think you'd do if you caught one I don't know).
You are so much fun to play with and I love how much you stretch. And stretch. And then stretch some more. And then maybe do a little stretching.
I love how much you love sunshine (as much as me!) and also find your way straight to any fireside.
I love that you love me.
Oh and I love that you love Marmite on toast as much as I do.
I love it when you snore and I love it when you make whiffling noises in your dreams.
In fact I love every single thing about you - except when bark excessively loudly and dramatically at the noise reversing lorries make (I can't hear one myself any more without wincing) and when you snap at the nieces and nephews (but let's talk about that another day).
My darling doglet, you give me so much happiness. When you are healthy and happy and enjoying life, then I'm happy too.
And now I'm going to make your birthday chicken you have instead of a cake - you're going to love it!