Just before Christmas, we lost our beautiful Chester. We adopted him and his brother Leo when they were 6 months old and we got a message from a friend that there were these puppies in need of a rescue. We thought we might be nuts getting two puppies at once, but it turned out to be messy, chaotic and ridiculously affectionate fun. Chester had a cancer of the blood vessels that had spread from his abdomen to his lungs. We had no idea that anything was wrong until very early one morning when he woke us up whimpering. The emergency vet was the kindest and most gentle person who had to break the news that the tumor had ruptured, he was bleeding internally and there was nothing that we could do but say goodbye. The cancer had taken over. It was a shock and it took us a few days to be able to talk about it without sobbing. He was much loved and he will be missed. My sincere thanks to everyone who heard and reached out to us with love. The photo above is one of my favorite pictures of him ever, blissed out and panting after fetching the ball a million times.

The rest of 2019 has just faded away into a blur. I had a couple of blog posts planned out; I often write a recap post of my year and a goal for the year ahead. But instead, I just took a social media hiatus. I stepped away and de-scheduled the posts and put my Etsy shops on vacation and I just took a break. In all honesty, the idea of having to deal with a panicked last minute online customer, a shipping issue or a negative comment on something was more than I could deal with. So I took a lot of walks with my husband and my newly-solo-labrador instead. And we ordered calzones and snuggled under blankets and watched Star Wars movies. We didn’t do fancy cookie baking, or put up a tree, or go to the holiday party, or cook a big meal or any of that stuff that many of us feel obligated to do at this time of year. And do you know what? I don’t think we missed it.

It feels good to start the year fresh. January rolled around and I turned back on the shops, dealt with the backlog of emails and Leo and I are figuring out a new routine. I work from a studio at home, so the dogs have always been my “coworkers”. It’s been bittersweet. Leo has started walking to the post office with me every day to drop off Etsy packages. Juggling a bag of mail and two large and enthusiastic dogs crossing traffic was always a little too much for me before, but Leo and I have it figured out. (He loves to hunt mice and stuff his face into the snow all the way up to his ears.) My husband works at a dog-friendly co-working space, so Leo went to work with him one day and then I picked him up and we made a trip through the bank drive through where he got a milkbone. I don’t usually take the dogs along on errands but I’m trying to do some things to keep him from just snoring on the couch all day now that there’s not someone always around to play chew-on-your-brother or chase-the-squirrel.

This feels like it could turn into one of those inspirational posts about new years and new beginnings but that’s really just not me. We are figuring things out a day at a time. Some days we try something new and some days we just need to let something go. And so far it’s turning out pretty ok.