How I’m Building a Stronger Bond with My Dog

It’s not as hard as I previously thought

Merre Larkin
5 min readOct 5, 2021
Author and dog at new residence.
Shelby and me at our new place. (Author’s pic)

My adult son and I gushed over the Budweiser commercial featuring a yellow lab puppy and a Clydesdale, and subsequently fell in love with the idea of getting a puppy just like that one. We had a golden retriever who was getting older and slower, and we felt ready for a puppy, or as ready as you can ever be. I checked with our property manager to see if she’d okay us getting another dog, and she gave us the go-ahead.

That’s how we ended up with Shelby, a very light yellow Labrador retriever who flew in from Missouri at eight weeks old in 2016. We named her after the Shelby brothers in the Peaky Blinders. Yes, they are a murderous gang, but they have their softer sides, too.

My son and I went to pick her up at the San Francisco International Airport, and our lives have never been the same. In a good way, of course.

My son happened to meet his girlfriend only a few months prior to Shelby coming into our lives, so in the beginning, he wasn’t as involved in the puppy process as I’d counted on. However, as Shelby adjusted, and my son adjusted to his serious relationship with a young woman, we all settled in together.

Our golden retriever tolerated her. Our cat never took to her. She bullied him, and we had…



Merre Larkin

Writer of nonfiction (memoir, essays), fiction, and poetry. Life/writing coach. Educator. Marathoner. Avid reader. Here to share, here to learn.