Last week, we celebrated my podcast baby’s first birthday… and this week, we celebrate the same milestone for my dog baby.
Happy Birthday, Irv!
I know this post isn’t explicitly book-related, but you’re going to get a mix of everything here — and since Irv has basically become the official mascot of SSR ever since we brought him home in September, it seems only right that he get some dedicated space on the blog, especially for such a big occasion.
I grew up with a very special golden retriever named Jake, who my family unfortunately lost in 2017, but even before that, I’d been dreaming of having a pup of my own. Obviously, dog ownership can be a challenge in the city, and while there were many moments during my first few years in NYC when I seriously considered just going for it and figuring it out later, I deferred to my better judgement. Matt and I planned the whole “getting a dog” thing verrrrry carefully. Last summer, we decided to move out of the apartment that we’d been living in for three years — and absolutely loved — because it wasn’t big enough for our future fur baby. We knew we needed more space, so we moved into an apartment building in a neighborhood that we didn’t love quite so much. I spent months researching puppies while we packed our first home together. Ultimately, this little photo of Irving (his name was Harry at the time) was the one that captured my heart.
Irving is from a small family farm near Reading, Pennsylvania. His original humans owned two golden retrievers who occasionally ended up with a litter of puppies. They also sold veggies from their garden and had a small custom cabinetry business. I reached out to them, and we made arrangements to pick Irv up just five days after our big move. This would give us enough time to get settled, but not so much time that we would miss the squishy puppy stage! Luckily, we were both able to take some time off while all of this was happening, and I was excited that we would have the chance to bond as a new little family of three. We couldn’t have planned it out better.
As we drove the two and a half hours to Reading, I started to get nervous. I insisted on driving so that I would have a way to channel my anxious energy. As we got closer to the final destination, I was definitely freaking out. What if I had misjudged these people? What if the whole thing was a scam? What if they treated their dogs poorly? What if the puppy was nasty, or looked nothing like the photo I’d seen online? Luckily, just before I went into full panic mode, the song “Golden Slumbers” started playing on my Spotify. Is that a sign or what? I cried happy tears of relief and we went to meet our new best friend with confidence.
When we pulled up to the farm, we saw a group of little kids frolicking in the yard and jumping on a trampoline. One of the girls asked me if I wanted to meet the puppy. Duh (I didn’t say that, but you know what I mean). Irv was hanging out in a barn all by himself — the last of his litter to be picked up! — and when he saw us, his little head popped up and I was obviously in love immediately. I sat with him in the back seat of the car the whole way back to New York. We spent the next few days trying to establish some sort of potty training routine and laughing at Irv’s antics. We realized early on that we’d really lucked out with Irving. He was sweet and laidback, wasn’t very interested in chewing our things, and had very few bathroom-related accidents, even in the beginning. What a guy!
Most of you know that things took a turn pretty quickly after that. My grandmother died suddenly just four days after Irv’s Gotcha Day (on my twenty-eighth birthday). The three of us — me, Matt, and Irv — rushed back into the car, drove back to Pennsylvania, and did our best to bond and stay on track with training while the sh*it hit the fan. When we got back to Brooklyn a few days later, I was alone for the first time in days, in an empty apartment, with tons of work to do and a lot of feelings. I was also suddenly responsible for a dog full-time, without Matt to share walking responsibilities and to help me watch Irv’s every move. What I’m trying to say is that, despite the fact that we tried to plan Irv’s arrival the best we could, he ended up coming into the mix at one of the craziest (/worst) times I can remember. Isn’t life weird?
As challenging as it was to juggle all of these things while I was grieving and feeling isolated, having Irv around made all the difference for me. I’d always known that it would be nice to have a dog around during the day (since I work from home full-time), but I had no idea how much I would need a furry new pal last fall. Having a golden retriever has been one of my dreams for, like, ever, but Irving ended up being the best thing that could happen to us with everything that my family was going through. We like to think we’ve been pretty good for him, too : )
So, yes, while Irv is adorable and hilarious on Instagram stories, he’s also meant a whole lot more to me than I usually share on social media.
A few other things about Irv that you may not know: his favorite snacks are peanut butter, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and vanilla ice cream (don’t worry — we only let him have a liiiiiiittle bit). He’s terrified of cardboard boxes and any packaging that makes a crinkly noise. Every night, he sleeps with one of Matt’s old t-shirts. He really likes his alone time, and can often be found just chilling in his open crate. He loves going on adventures in the car, but does get carsick sometimes. He’s obsessed with watching sunsets. When he’s happy, he makes funny pig snorting noises. We think he has some wires crossed somewhere, because he also growls when he’s happy sometimes. He HATES taking baths. If I put music on and start dancing, he sits and gives me his paw or starts running around the coffee table. His full name is Irving Gilbert Kosik. Basically, he’s a really funny, sweet, wonderful little guy, and I am so happy that he is in our family. He has brought us so much happiness! And I may or may not be making him a doggie birthday cake to celebrate…
Here are a few of my favorite Irv photos to mark the moment! (Let’s be honest — I could go on for days.)