Eight years ago, I chose a ten-day-old puppy from a photo to be mine.  I figured correctly that I would experience the joys of raising a puppy. But I was surprised by how much that puppy, who became my mother’s namesake, would mean in my relationship with my mom in the last years of her life.

My mom, who at that time had just started to show moderate signs of dementia, went through puppy photos with me.  As we discussed the pros and cons of each puppy, she said she wanted me to name a girl puppy after her:  Stella.  I agreed.  She picked this puppy for me from a photo.

What was odd about this is that my mom Stella had never shown any interest in dogs before– they scared her.  But she was all in on this puppy.  And she later became intrigued and interested in all dogs. 

Ten days old

Six months before she died

now: almost eight years old

Over the next six years before her death, as my mom’s dementia increased, we developed a routine.

Mom:  How’s Stella <giggle>?
Me:  Good.  I tell her “Sit, Stella, Sit.”
Mom:  <laugh laugh laugh> Are you going to tell me to sit?
Me:  Yes, Mom.  “Sit, Stella, Sit.”
Mom:  <giggle, laugh>  I’m like your dog!  <laugh>

Sometimes, when I was in Miami with her, this conversation would happen ten times in a day.

I love this picture of StellaPup because it reminds me of those sweet moments of connection with my mom during her last years and my now eight-year-old dog as a babe.  The “puppy” will be eight on September 7, 2018.