Charles Esten & Blue
This is my first letter to a dog. But, then again, you are my first dog. As kids, my sister and I simply knew that we couldn’t own a dog. It was just too much for our wonderful working mother who, post-divorce, was left to raise us on her own. Because I knew I couldn’t have one, I guess I slowly learned to not even want one. I’m sure this attitude was further enhanced over the years by various run-ins with unfriendly dogs. The last involving a German Shepherd who imagined he was protecting the child I was babysitting. It got a little crazy. Anyway, not really a dog person. (Then buddy, then. Not now.)
When Mom and I had our three kids (Yes, I know you call her Mom, too) they were different. “Can we please get a dog?!” may not have been their first words, but I’m pretty sure they were in the first couple hundred. Mom and I resisted. I mean, we always figured we might get one. We were just waiting for the right moment. And with a million soccer games, tae kwon do classes, plays, talent shows, and family vacations, that right moment just never seemed to come. As the kids started their high school years, it began to seem like it might never.
Then... I got an acting job. In the city, and on the show, NASHVILLE. Greatest job of my career for many, many reasons - but none bigger than this:
Season One, Episode 14, Juliet Barnes has her assistant Emily deliver a birthday present to my character, Deacon. It’s a puppy. A yellow lab. It’s you. And for a half a dozen episodes you were the best doggone dog on TV. And I fell in love. So, when they wrote you off the show (It’s a tough business, buddy), I begged to keep you. Our wonderful creator Callie Khoury said yes.
Since then, you have completely changed our lives. You have always been the very best boy, even as a puppy (trained for to TV!)
You make us laugh ’til we cry with your own particular insanity (crazy run!), and when one of us is hurting, you somehow seem to know, and before we even notice, you’re curled up in our lap, somehow making it all a little better. I still don’t understand the incredible dog geometry you perform that allows you to find the exact mathematical center of any group in the room - but there you sit, EVERY TIME, luxuriating in your family.
I want you to know that I know Mom is your favorite. I understand. She’s mine, too. And besides, she’s the one that walks you, every morning, with your friends and hers. You bless her, Blue, and all the rest of us. Now that the kids are in college and moved out, you make this “empty nest’ a whole lot less empty. And when they come home, you are a one-dog ticker tape celebration that makes them feel even more home.
We love you, buddy. We’re dog people now. And you, my boy, are our dog.