Stay smitten: Dogs are a girl’s best friend

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Stay Smitten” is a recurring blog feature filled with tangible relationship advice to help make sure your honeymoon is more than just a phase. That it’s a way of life. Why? Because marriages in which love shines the brightest have the power to change the world.

One year ago today, Mr. Smitten and I drove to the animal shelter in St. Paul. We told each other we were only going to “look,” that the night was simply another unconventional date. I suspect we both knew in our hearts there was no way we were making the two-hour journey there and back just to “look” though, that when we pulled back into our driveway we’d have a new furry family member sprawled in the backseat—which is, of course, exactly what happened.

From the moment M locked eyes with us at the shelter, she became our M. In the 365 days since, she has been a tail-wagging, kiss-dispensing ball of sunshine bouncing through our lives, teaching us more than a little bit about living and loving.

All this is to say, while staying smitten takes oodles of intentional planning, sometimes it requires just as much spontaneity—even better when that spontaneity shows up on four legs.

Thanks to M for illuminating:

Every day you have a new story to write.

We celebrated M’s seventh birthday late last month, which means she spent six years with her previous family. While Mr. Smitten and I only know a few details of her life before us, there are signs it wasn’t always easy. Still, every day M shoots out of bed more excited about the dawn of a new morning (and a bowl of Blue Buffalo fish and sweet potato food) than any pup (or human) I know.

Cuddles are always a good idea.

As I write this, M is keeping my lap warm with her head, occasionally inserting typos when she shifts her nose from my legs onto the keyboard. From day one, M has opened her heart to Mr. Smitten and me, never hesitating to get cozy. She doesn’t care how early my alarm clock is set to go off or if I have a pressing deadline to meet. Taking time to cuddle is M’s number one priority, alarm clocks and deadlines be damned.

Kindness is queen.

While M is especially fond of Mr. Smitten and me, she generously loves pretty much every human she meets. From our mail carrier who delivers too many Amazon packages to the Boy Scouts who stop to sell popcorn, everyone is worthy of a tail-wag or two in M’s eyes.

Life is too short not to eat the cake.

If cuddling is M’s number one priority, eating is her second. Despite her vet putting her on a diet at her first checkup in the week after Mr. Smitten and I adopted her, M recognizes that you can still enjoy the finer things in life—like The Honest Kitchen’s Instant Goat Milk—in moderation, of course.

If you want something, ask for it.

M is a lot of things, but there’s definitely one thing she’s not: shy. Whether it’s desiring a belly rub, sniffing around outside or getting close to being past dinner time, M speaks up for what she wants—usually embodying Yoda with a Star Wars-esque greeting. And guess what? M’s success rate hovers near 100 percent.