Three years ago today I adopted the smartest, sweetest, silliest, and most ridiculously adorable puppy in the world, and it was easily the best decision I have ever made.

How much more cute could he be? The answer is none. None more cute.

He was very scared when I met him at the shelter, cringing and shaking, but he warmed up quickly, wagging his tail a little and letting me pet him gently. When I was filling out the paperwork, the shelter worker told me I was getting a discount because he was so close to being put down, which still breaks my heart.

He was so nervous when I brought him home, but also so sweetly, painfully hopeful — he desperately wanted to believe I would be good to him. He was scared of a lot of things: hands coming toward his head, getting anywhere near my bed, any kind of water, even puddles on the street. It took months before he started believing that I was always coming back. He looked back constantly on walks like he was afraid I’d disappear, and he spent long stretches with his head in my lap, gazing up at me adoringly (he still does that sometimes, though nowhere near as often).

Buster’s “I love you more than life itself” look

But even then, he was irrepressibly Buster. He couldn’t stay home alone without nonstop barking at first, so I had to put him in daycare. When I picked him up the first day, they told me that most dogs are shy and withdrawn at first, but Buster swaggered in and took over the place within the hour. He’s 14 lbs., but he was convinced he was the biggest dog there, and he made all the other dogs believe it, too. He loved walks and belly rubs and the dog park and sleeping in patches of sunshine and bossing other dogs around. He gets cold easily, and his unbridled joy and wonder when I introduced him to the concept of covers still makes me laugh and tear up (he still comes running every time I use a blanket on the couch). Once he got over his fear of the bed, it became one of his favorite places — he’d beg me to take naps with him and get annoyed when I stayed up too late.

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It’s all just too much!
Such a silly puppy

He’s come so far in the last three years, and we’ve been through so much, but he’s still the same amazing, smart, funny, sweet, sarcastic dog. He loves me with an intensity I can’t really comprehend, and I love him so much it scares me a little. I’m not really joking when I call him my soulmate.

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Look at my happy boy:

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Happy name day, Mr. Buster Brown. I could never deserve you, but I am infinitely grateful that you’re in my life.