Despite what many people might think upon meeting her, my dog is not named after the nail polish. Actually it wasn’t until several weeks after her adoption that a drunk Cubs fan first made the connection, as she sat with Essie in the middle of the crowded sidewalk. Frankly, after spending the better half of the previous year volunteering in Africa, I had completely forgotten that Essie nail polish was even a thing.
My Essie is named after a little girl I befriended in Kenya. Essie the girl, short for Esther, was about 2 and a half when we met and her big grin and funny little antics drew me to her immediately. Like a puppy, Essie the girl was independent, curious and sweet, always getting into things and playing with anything she could find. She was clever, full of energy and able to befriend just about anyone. Little did I know that my own Essie, a shelter dog I adopted ten years ago today, would so closely live up to her precious namesake.
In some ways I can’t believe Es has been in my life for a decade, and in others I can’t believe there was ever a time without her. I adopted Essie 3 weeks after moving into my first big girl Chicago apartment at Racine and Eddy. In many ways, her arrival marks the beginning of my grown up years. Adopting a dog, especially a puppy, taught me a lot about being an adult. Even ten years later, Essie continues to teach me valuable life lessons in patience, responsibility, forgiveness and unconditional love.
Essie and I are a team, a dynamic duo. We wake up together, we work out together, we share meals together, we travel together, we play together, we watch Netflix together and at the end of each day, we fall asleep together. Much like roommates or partners who have lived together for as long as we have, we know one another’s habits and have our own form of non-verbal communication.
My girl may be 10 but if it weren’t for her white face, you wouldn’t know it. She regularly runs circles around puppies at the park, logs 5 mile walks and runs, puts labradors to shame at the beach and jumps twice her height to catch fly tennis balls. If Essie were human, she’d be an Olympian – of that, I’m certain.
Most people, including pretty much my entire family, are overwhelmed by her constant energy but I am crazy about it. Even on crappy days the sound of Essie’s tail thumping against the bed or floor or whatever piece of furniture she happens to be standing near makes me smile, drop what I’m doing and grab the leash. Together we have covered thousands upon thousands of miles through city streets, suburban sidewalks, State and National Parks, lakefront paths, small town gravel roads, mountain trails and sandy beaches.
I am so lucky to have her, so grateful that she was the puppy that ran right to me, let me pick her up and put her paw on my cheek when we first met. The past decade has been full of ups and downs, cross-country moves, new jobs and new apartments but my faithful, furry sidekick has been with me through it all. Years from now, when I look back on the confusing yet exciting years that span early adulthood, I will think of Essie and wonder how I could have ever managed without her sweet, loving eyes, her silky soft ears, her powerful, happy tail or her inspiring energy.
Happy 10th adoption day to my sweet Es – may we celebrate many more!