For a long time I had been hoping and praying for a return to my native Cleveland. I missed the people and my lifestyle back home. I returned as often as I could and shared memories of my childhood with my children so they could understand my affection for my hometown.
We lived where we did with little chance of a relocation, so I made the best of it.
One of the best parts of where we were was our wonderful dog and companion, Aero. He was with us for nearly all of his 12-1/2 years. A beautiful dark reddish gold Golden Retriever, Aero was with us when the kids were babies and would bounce around on him without even flinching. He endured a nearly complete blood transfusion due to a bad reaction to antibiotics, skin rashes, lyme disease, torn ACLs, hip dysplasia, cancer, fatty tumors and so many other minor issues. He cost us thousands of dollars and even more tears, but he was worth every ounce of effort and provided infinite joy to all of us. But, the time came when he looked in my eyes and let me know that he couldn’t give any more. We held him as he left us and cried more tears. His absence is still felt four years later.
Working from home half the week, his absence hit me hard. I missed his face, his warm companionship. I hated conming home and not feeling the warmth and love.
I knew we could never replace him, but having another ball of unconditional love in the house seemed to be what we needed.
I began a search online for rescue puppies. As much as I loved our purebred, a mixed breed called to me. After we were turned down for one mop dog, we found a litter of mismatched puppies who were all named after Sesame Street characters.
The first one to catch our eye was a little, black, fluffy puppy with a white goatee, white back toes and a white cross on his chest. His name was Grover. We sent in the application right away and heard back almost immediately. He was meant to be ours.
One of his brothers looked like a black Labrador and was named Cleveland. He reminded me of my childhood puppy. I quietly asked if we’d be able to adopt him, too, and surprisingly the rescue group agreed.
Within days, the new members of our family were home with us. From the moment they arrived, they fit in and they were inseparable.
While Grover would give his time and cuddles to the entire family, Cleveland quickly decided to reserve most of his energy for me. He would lie down beside me, follow me around and nudge his brother out of the way to be closer to me.
The boys never selected an alpha between them, but have their own strengths in different situations. Cleveland always protects Grover. Grover always barks first if he hears something odd, but Cleveland quickly chimes in. They are inseparable and, even after four years, still like to sleep touching one another.
While Grover is a free spirit of sorts, Cleveland has become my shadow. He lies at my feet. Sleeps beside me. Waits outside the bathroom while I shower. Sits at the door until I come home from work. My prayers were answered. I got Cleveland. A warm, cuddly, unconditional Cleveland.
As the boys have grown, Grover has become at times more demanding of attention from me and sometimes nudges Cleveland out of the way, but he’ll accept attention from anyone who’ll give it. Cleveland is loving with everyone, but reserves his primary affection for me. He is still mine and I am his.
My wishes did come true two years ago, when we moved back to Cleveland with my faithful Cleveland by my side.