This is a Blog About Love

In Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams’s character passes up the opportunity to attend a legendary Red Sox playoff game on account of a chance encounter with his future wife.

“I just slid my ticket across the table and I said, ‘Sorry guys, I gotta go see about a girl.'”

Our course in life is set by both choice and chance. Most often the greatest change in that course is when we make the choice to take a chance. Four years ago I slid my ticket across the table, started freelance writing and said, “Sorry guys, I gotta go see about a dog.”

That dog was Eko and that decision to take a chance on myself was life-altering. How did I pass up the security of a full-time job and a stable future in favor of a pen, a dog and a dream? In a word, Emily.

During Emily’s final year of medical school I discovered the adventure of a lifetime – an opportunity to travel the country with Eko and write about it. At the time we had no idea how long I’d be gone and no clue where Emily would match for her residency.

Emily is one of those rare few people whose passion and career align. She is dedicated to providing outstanding women’s healthcare and she has worked tirelessly for years to realize that goal. I think she recognized that same passion in my eyes because her support for this crazy trip and this crazy man never wavered.

So with Emily’s love at our back, Eko and I set sail. It was an adventure to find the best pet-friendly destinations and it was also an adventure to find myself. But like Robin Williams’s character, I missed out on a lot by giving up the ticket I had.

While on the road I missed birthdays, holidays and friends. I wasn’t there when Emily wrestled with difficult residency applications and I wasn’t there cheering when she graduated as the valedictorian of her medical school.

What hurt the most is that I wasn’t there the day Emily learned where she’d matched for residency. Before she opened that envelope I should have been there to promise it didn’t matter what the letter said because I’d follow her across the world.

But I wasn’t. Instead I was on the other side of the country in a cheap motel with Eko. “You promise you’ll come to Chicago?” Emily asked me on the phone, fighting back tears. “I’m on my way right now,” I promised.

The truth is that I was always on my way to Emily. I just needed to take a few detours to find myself along the way. I missed so much while I was gone, but what I discovered was even more important. Because of Emily, because of Eko, because of that trip, I am a better person. Because of Emily’s belief in me, I’m not talking right now about some crazy dream I had four years ago and how I always regretted not taking that chance on myself.

The past four years of my life have been the best four years of my life. It’s no surprise it all started with Emily. Marking Our Territory is a story about dogs. A story about dogs is a story about love. And this love story has finally come full circle. Tomorrow I get to marry my best friend.

I have a short video pre-loaded for tomorrow, but from the time of this posting I’ll be out of contact for a bit. If anyone asks for me, tell them I had to go see about a girl.

 

Puppy Love

So far, “Emily Week” has covered some of my favorite Emily/Eko moments and my favorite Emily/Penny moments. But in truth, those moments are few and far between. Why? Because neither pup is willing to give up time with Emily, so it’s almost always an Emily/Eko/Penny moment. Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, cute, dog, chicago

As a young pup, Penny fit quite nicely in Emily’s lap

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The fit is a bit more snug these days but the gang makes it work

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These lap dogs never miss an opportunity to snuggle with Emily

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Blankets? Who needs blankets when you have these two?

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Even when playing, these two stick close to Emily – who herself is adapt at casually answering emails while fending off two large mammals

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Emily and her two shadows

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My three favorite creatures 

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I’m with Eko and Penny, how could you not love Emily?

Only two days to go until the wedding! I guess I should probably look for a suit…

…just kidding, Emily!

My Favorite Girls

“Are you sure we’re ready for another dog?” Emily asked.

Ready? Yes. Sure? There’s no such thing. Raising and caring for a dog is a major commitment and there’s no certainty about where that commitment might take you. But when Emily emphatically endorsed our commitment to get another dog I knew we were about to embark on a wonderful adventure together.

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From day one, we knew Penny was just a bit different 

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Emily embraced the challenge (and the pup) wholeheartedly

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With all of Penny’s energy, we needed the both of us to keep up

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Nothing like exploring the world (and the menu) with your pup

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Like Eko, Penny’s helped me make Emily smile

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And also like Eko, Penny’s never far from Emily’s side

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My favorite smiles, my favorite girls

As an added bonus, since we made it through year one of Penny, year one of our marriage should be a breeze!

Welcome to Emily Week!

Well, folks. As Samuel L. Jackson said in Jurassic Park, “Hold on to your butts.”

Emily and I are getting married this Friday. It’s no secret Emily is smart, funny, kind, supportive and beautiful, so I feel like one lucky dog. How does a girl like that end up with a knucklehead like me? I had some help.

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Who could possibly resist the charm of puppy Eko!?

That’s why I’m officially declaring it “Emily Week” here on the blog. It seems only fitting to give credit to the pups who helped the princess realize this frog of a blogger might one day become her prince charming. I’d like to kick the week off by sharing some of my favorite photos of Emily and Eko together.

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Like me, Eko loves nothing more than a hug from Emily

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Eko was, is and always will be a complete momma’s boy

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Wherever Emily goes, you can be sure Eko will follow

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Eko loves showering Emily with affection. If he happens to score a bit of ice cream in the process, it’s an added bonus

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And when Em comes home from work Eko always knows how to make her feel appreciated

Emily works long and crazy hours at the hospital. When she’s home she often zonks out on the couch. And there’s no better napping buddy than Eko.

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In winter months, he acts as a heated blanket

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On warm sunny days Eko is a comfy headboard

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And year round, Eko is happy to be little spoon

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I owe Eko bigtime for always helping me make Emily smile!

“Wait a second, it kind of sounds like Emily is marrying you because you have an awesome dog…” you say.

“SHHH, keep your voice down!” I say. I take care of Eko, he takes care of me. And I’m happy we both take care of Emily.

So welcome to Emily Week! Well, every week is Emily Week, but this week I’m excited to share some of my favorite moments with my favorite person. It’s because of her this little dog and pony show known as Marking Our Territory is possible.

[VIDEO] Welcome Back, Spring!

We’ve had our setbacks with an uncooperative Mother Nature, and we’ve had our share of trouble with a worrisome Canine Influenza outbreak. But we have our health, we have each other, and the sun shines a bit brighter each day. Not much more a guy or a pup could ask for.

Spring, it’s good to see you again!

Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppy Photos

While cleaning up my hard drive I stumbled onto a cache of unpublished photos from Penny’s first week home. Somehow between driving back and forth to NJ and puppy-induced sleep deprivation I completely missed posting them.

I hear the kids these days have a thing called “Throwback Thursday,” so I thought today would be the perfect time to share a few puppy photos from the vault.
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Wearing a collar takes a bit of getting used to

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Penny bravely tried to introduce herself to Eko

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But he clearly wasn’t having it at first

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So instead she befriended Auggie, my mom’s pup, who graciously let Penny use his bed. I’m not sure she gave him much of a choice

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Penny began her illustrious career as a taste-tester of inedible objects with a sample of my cell phone 
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When Eko was ready, he tested Penny to see if she was tough enough to join our band of adventurers

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I think he was quite surprised at how the little stinker didn’t even flinch when faced with the jaws of a ferocious beast

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He was even more surprised when she tried to kiss him!

Eko finally realized he, like me, was helpless in the face of such cuteness. “Fine, she can stay,” he said, “but don’t expect us to be all lovey-dovey and reenact that scene from Lady and the Tramp.”

….one week later…

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“Will, if you put this photo of us Lady-and-the-Tramp-ing on the blog, you’re in big trouble”

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It’s not as easy to fit Penny on my lap these days, but she’ll always be my little girl

Thanks for taking an indulgent trip down nostalgia road with me. And remember, always take more photos. I took so many of puppy Penny but still feel like I didn’t get enough!