Zuzu turns five on October 28, 2018. At five, she is considered an adult. Theoretically, a mature adult. Though that could be debated on some days. When our dogs are puppies or adolescents, sometimes we can't wait for them to “grow up” and be mature adults. Then sometimes we reminisce about those carefree puppy days when they entertained us with their antics. During those nostalgic times, we often conveniently forget what a pain in the butt they could be and only remember the good stuff.

Zuzu at nearly five years old acts like an adult most of the time. But she still has that spunk we saw even before we brought her home at six weeks of age. She has always been a spunky, feisty girl and that's one of the things I love about her. Maybe there are some days when I wish I were a bit spunkier like her. And maybe there are some moments when I wish she were a bit less spunky. But I love her just the same.

Each summer, when the weather heats up, I would think that Zuzu was calming down and mellowing out. Then fall would roll around, the weather would cool off, and Zuzu would go right back to being that energetic spitfire that I knew during the winter. I was fooled a couple of years in a row and then I wised up. She does not like the heat. I joke that she hibernates for the summer because she spends the hot days sleeping in the coolest spot of the house she can find. We see her mostly first thing in the morning and then again when it cools off in the evening. But as soon as the cool weather sets in again each fall, she is ready and raring to go!

This year, we lost Romeo in May just as the weather was starting to heat up. So it was hard to tell if Zuzu was mourning her brother or just responding to the rise in temperature. She seemed more subdued, but that could just have been the heat. She snuggled with me a few times after we first lost him, despite the heat. And she is not a big snuggler, especially if it's hot. So either she was missing him or she was sensing that I was really missing him. Either way, I needed and appreciated her snuggling with me despite the heat.

But as she and I no longer had Romeo to spice things up for us, we settled into our own routine. We did our morning walks, but they were not quite as enthusiastic without Romeo. Zuzu no longer had anyone to chase and wrestle with. Zuzu no longer had Romeo to scent out and flush out the bunnies to chase. Zuzu and I were pretty melancholy on those first walks without him. But we gradually figured out our own routine. Zuzu started walking beside me during a large portion of our walks. That's what Romeo used to do. Zuzu tended to be off on her own quite a bit more. Close by, but doing her own thing. Now she was engaging more with me. Romeo used to be the one jumping up on obstacles and practicing his parkour skills. Now Zuzu is the one who runs ahead and waits for me on the bench or the logs or what-have-you. She has taken over some of the role that Romeo used to fill. It has been very interesting to see our relationship grow as it's just the two of us out on those walks now.

Zuzu is also more affectionate and snuggly with me now that Romeo is not here. She and I have grown closer. Perhaps that is partly our shared grieving for Romeo. But I think because he was always Mr. SnuggleBug and right there with me, she perhaps did not get the chance to do some of those things that she might have wanted to do. But now she can.

When we made our annual trip to Snow Mountain Ranch this year in September, Zuzu stuck closer to me this year. Snuggled more with me while we hung out in the cabin we rented. I suppose part of these changes could be due to age as she continues to mature. But there have definitely been some distinct changes since our loss of Romeo. As much as I miss our Vizsla, I am glad to see that my relationship with Zuzu has grown considerably this year. She has grown into a really amazing and wonderful dog.

Happy birthday, my sweet girl!