Raven hears everything. Sometimes when I'm alone, and I think I hear a random noise, I look to her to see if she's perked up. If not, I know the noise was all in my head or at the very least it was nothing worth perking up about. She's my little big protector. Men literally cross to the other side of the street when we're out on our walks, and she doesn't even growl or bark at anyone - she just sniffs around and (mostly) minds her business.

Somehow I've managed to keep her well and warm for another year. I may be a plant killer, but I seem to be an okay pet parent. And that's the most accurate way to describe having a pet. I never understood it before. Growing up, my mom had such terrible allergies, so a pet was always out of the question, and she'd always say they were so much work that I probably couldn't handle it anyway. But I knew in my heart of hearts she was exaggerating. 20 years later, I see that she was not exaggerating. A few months ago I found myself treating Raven for an ear infection that I thought to myself, she's like a freaking child!

(How/why on earth do people get puppies and kittens when their kids are still small? Do they spend every waking moment cleaning up some mess? Do they enjoy chaos? HOW.)

But I digress.

Miss Raven is another year older and wiser, and thankfully, calmer. I thought we'd never make it past the LEVEL 10 ENERGY ALL DAY EVERY DAY phase, but Lord Jesus, we've made it. I'm not sure of her exact birthday. When I rescued her on a random weekend in March (full story here), I took her to the vet and they estimated she was about four months old from the looks of her puppy teeth. So I counted back and decided her birthday would be November 6th - my dad's birthday. She came into this world right around the time my dad left it, and she's helped me heal in ways I didn't even know I needed help with. For that, I am grateful, and that's probably the only reason she gets a pass for alllll the things she's chewed up in her short lifetime (shoes, mail and other important documents, my library card, a tablet... just to name a few... from this past year alone), despite having a huge bone of her own laying around the house at any given time.

I can't wait to see how much growth the next year holds.