We know Duncan was born sometime around the beginning of November, but we don't know the exact date. I explained to him recently that his biological mother didn't keep detailed records (she was a big ol' mess and I don't think she actually knows who the father is). Duncan took it surprisingly well, probably mostly because I told him on Halloween right before trick-or-treating started so he was distracted at the moment.

I adopted my baby at the end of January and at the time a lady who smelled like dog poop and who handed him over to me said that they thought he was about 12 weeks old based on his teeth or his eyes or the number of rings around his core or something. Then she took all of my money and forgot to tell me that I wasn't going to get a full night of sleep for the next four months.

I pulled out my calculator and did very complicated math to determine that Mr. Doodle entered the world in early November. Sometime after that I decided we would just celebrate his birthday on 11/11 because it's memorable and it will look cool if we ever decide to tattoo it onto his clavicle.

We texted Adam the other day to make sure Teddy and Renley had it in their calendars. Adam responded that he saw them putting it into their phones.

Then we texted Matt for the same reason. He responded that Toby was over at his house playing with Ollie and so he reminded both of them but he wasn't sure if the message sunk in since they were both high as a kite at that moment thanks to Broome Bungalow's latest paint project.

Sorry for all of you who thought Halloween was over.

Also, Toby pretty much always looks like that. Every time I see him I want to apologize for everything.

I can't believe Duncan is already turning one year old. Around the time Duncan was born I was going through an extremely difficult few months. I look forward to being able to tell you that whole story sometime, but unfortunately I can't just yet thanks to attorney-client privilege and a few other things that are somehow even less interesting than attorney-client privilege.

Hashtag vauguebooking.

By the time November closed out, I was experiencing burnout and emotional fatigue to a level I had never before known, and for the next couple of months I sort of felt like a zombie, trying desperately to stave off very regular panic attacks and to just function.

Really awesome timing to launch Strangerville Live and plan, organize, and execute our first show, by the way.

Right when I was hitting the bottom of the burnout and starting to try to figure out how to pick up the pieces, Matt Sent Me A Very Important Text.

It was a puppy.

There was no way in Hell I was about to bring a pooping little animal into my life at that time. No way. Uh-uh. Nope. Not going to happen. That was the LAST thing that I needed. The absolute LAST thing.

But then.

But then I just kept going back and looking at that picture. And thinking about how this little baby needed someone to love him. And how maybe that someone needed to be me, even though at the moment I didn't feel like I had a lot left in me.

So I went and met him. And a lady who smelled like dog poop handed him over to me and forgot to warn me that I wouldn't sleep for four months.

And I took him home. And he became my baby.

He used to wake me up five times a night to go out and go potty. He would cry whenever I left the house. He would snuggle up to me on the couch and fall asleep on my lap. He would follow me around the park and try to hide between my legs if a bigger dog scared him. He would wake me up every morning by army-crawling to the top of the bed and licking my face.

It took about five minutes for me to fall in love with this amazing little creature who unconditionally loves me back.

I know you aren't all dog people, and I totally get that. For a long time I wasn't one either. And there are probably a few of you who have rolled your eyes all 7,459 times I have posted a picture of Duncan on Stranger this year.

But whatever. It's Duncan's birthday. And this week, I'm celebrating that by being grateful for this amazing little guy who sort of saved my life.

At the beginning of this year I was convinced that bringing home a little puppy was the last thing I needed. I was wrong. It was exactly what I needed.

Mr. Duncan Doodle, I love you more than I ever knew it was possible to love a dog. You were born exactly at the time when I needed you most. It's cliche; it's cheesy. But I don't care. I'll say it anyway. I was supposed to step in and rescue you, but looking back I can see clearly that you actually rescued me. And I'm going to give you eleventy billion kisses all over, every day, for the rest of your life, whether you like it or not.

To help me celebrate Duncan's birthday, tell me a quirky thing about a pet you have now or a beloved one who's already gone on to Jesus.

~It Just Gets Stranger