The year was 2016. It was my and my boyfriend's three-year anniversary.
I got him a hideous white leather coat that he really, really wanted, and he got me... a puppy.
Here is the day we brought home our baby girl, Linda.
It's now been exactly five weeks since Linda joined our lives, and we have hit more milestones as a couple in these past 37 days than we had in three years of dating and two years of living together.
Here are eight things getting a puppy will teach you about your relationship.
How good you are at sharing responsibilities
Heads up for those of you who think puppies are all snuggles and adorable snoring: They're not.
It's, like, 10 percent adorable snuggles, 10 percent adorable snoring and 80 percent watching the dog pee and poop on itself, cleaning up the pee and poop, taking your puppy outside to pee and poop, analyzing their pee and poop, getting up in the middle of the night so they can pee and poop, and in general, touching, talking about, looking at, and thinking about your pup's pee and poop.
This is EXTRAORDINARILY time-consuming. It seriously feels like a five-person-with-no-job's job, not a two-person-with-two-jobs job.
In your pup's first few weeks home with you, you will also need to make a few regular vet check-ups and teach it the basics of how to survive on this crazy, wild rock we call Earth. Talk about responsibility.
This will force you and your partner to take turns, schedule out your days, hours, minutes and tag team the effort. It will become clear very quickly who — if anyone — is carrying the brunt of the work.
Your hygiene deal-breakers
If you missed it, puppies pee and poop A LOT. They might roll around in it, they might track it all through your apartment or they might step on it without you realizing it before you put them on your couch and then it's too late. Now you have to throw the couch out.
You will also be handling things like chew toys, puppy food, eye boogers and mouth slobber which, amazingly, all smell the same.
Inevitably, you will find that your dog's mouth and butt have somehow, through the transitive property or otherwise, touched everything in your house.
You and your partner will need to lay down some ground rules to get on the same page. Do you need to wash your hands if you are playing fetch with the dog before going to bed? Is their chew toy allowed on furniture? Who gags the least when handling wet puppy food?
Who gags the least when handling wet puppy food?
Having a puppy will shine light on your hygiene standards and force you to make new ones.
How to prioritize one another
I can't stress this enough: Puppies are A LOT of work.
You might find that you go hours, even days, without looking at one another because your eyes are glued to that adorable face (and butt. Please see points one and two above.).
You'll find that the organic time usually reserved for just the two of you shrinks substantially. This means if you want to make sure you spend time together — really together — you have to plan it and get proactive about scheduling that time.
Maybe that means on Saturday mornings, no one gets out of bed before noon (except to let the dog out). Maybe that means calling "just to say hi" during your lunch break. Whatever it is, you'll find it.
Each other's limits of exhaustion
Hi. My name is Jamie, and I have a sleeping problem.
The first night we brought Linda home, she screamed bloody murder for seven straight hours while we tried to crate train her.
Now, I know you THINK you know what sound I am referring to, because I also thought I knew what a dog's barking sounded like.
What I did NOT know the sound of is a brand new infant puppy spending her first night away from her mom and siblings and going through shock.
By hour three, I fully cracked. I begged my boyfriend for us to take her back and never speak of it again.
The first two weeks, I lost six pounds because I was unable to eat due to all the exhaustion and nausea. My boyfriend started taking 20 minutes showers to, I think, nap in secret.
You think you know what it's like to survive on no sleep until you actually do it, and I will tell you what: It is not pretty, and it will take a new level of effort and self-control to not take it out on one another.
Who the real softy is
Damn, those puppy eyes. Damn them!
Maybe in your relationship pre-pup, it was clear which person took themselves and life more seriously. Maybe one of you is better at following the rules, is more disciplined or has greater willpower overall.
Well, believe you me, a puppy will test this.
The first time your puppy understands they're in trouble might just break your dark, black heart. If you think you will be the disciplinarian, you may find you need to count on bae to handle the big things.
If you, like, even want kids
Before Linda, my boyfriend and I were baby crazy. Of course, we aren't in a place to have our own children yet, but it was something we always talked about.
After spending this much time wiping a butt that isn't my own and all but breathing for this furry infant, I can confidently say that whenever I was going to have babies in my life has now been pushed back at least five years. I might even freeze my eggs.
"This is great training for when you have kids" is, like, a real thing people say that actually is very accurate.
I feel like a mother and honestly can't even imagine what having a real-life human baby is like after this.
What your joint and individual priorities actually are
Once your freedom is somewhat limited, the things you value the most in your life will become clear. This might mean in terms of time AND money.
Dogs are expensive, and some luxuries might need to be cut. Want to take your dog to the vet to get her rabies shots AND get your roots done? You can only choose one, young grasshopper.
By putting constraints on your every day life, the important things will become much more clear.
If you see a real future together or not
This is a big one. I was completely shocked to see how differently I felt about my significant other when I learned he decided he wanted to get a dog with me.
I always knew we were going to be together, but this surely must be proof if anyone needed it.
Our girl has a life expectancy of 10 to 14 years. She will likely meet our actual kids one day. I'll be, like, 40 when she dies.
That isn't saying nothing about the strength of my relationship.
Watching my boyfriend become a father (I KNOW, GROSS, RELAX) to our puppy has changed who he is in my eyes for the better. I see him differently now that I've watched him mop up another creature's diarrhea, and it's weirdly romantic and lovely.
The moral of this story is: All roads lead back to poop and pee.