The Story of Azzurri (the dog, not the Italian soccer team)

You are supposed to do things you love on your birthday, right? Well… I love my dog and writing, and it is my birthday, so today I will tell you the story of my dog Azzurri.

It was the winter of 2005 and I had not applied to college yet for the fall of 2006. I was uninspired and only wanted to go to one school: the University of Oregon in Eugene. So, I sent in my application with a somewhere around 500-letter essay on the phrase “Mens Agitat Molem,” which is Latin for “Minds move mountains,” and also the University of Oregon motto.

A few months later as I went along with life as usual, a letter came in the mail. I had gotten into my dream school, the only one to which I had applied. It may not have been Harvard, Yale, or any other prestigious Ivy League university, but it was my dream school nonetheless.

The day I was accepted I was already fortuitously going to the Nike Employee store. A store built in my hometown of Beaverton next to the Nike World Headquarters. A store that is there solely because of the legacy of Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman who created Nike at my future school. How fitting!

Naturally I did the only thing a future Duck should do: tell all my friends I got in and go buy Ducks gear of course.

Before that day, I had never spent $300 on a pair of shoes. However, when a green and yellow pair of University of Oregon-themed shoes with orange embroidered duck feet shone their beautiful green and yellow aura to me at the Nike Employee store, I knew I had to have them.

Fast forward a little bit to freshman year, I enrolled in an entry-level Accounting class and needed to find a seat. The whole class was almost full and I spotted a few empty seats scattered across the lecture room. One seat was next to a guy who looked Persian, so I walked up to him, asked him if the seat was open (it was), and then if he was Persian (he was). We have been friends ever since.

Sophomore year, my friend from accounting was looking for a roommate to get an apartment with near campus the next year. We ended up getting a place right by Dough Co. on 14th street at the Hilyard House. Things went great junior year and we lived together for his senior year in the same building but in a different unit.

During that year, he dated a girl who had a dog named Bella, and I would dogsit for her while they went out. I am a homebody and not much of a partier, so Bella was my little pal. I had never had a dog before and she was so adorable it just made you happy to have her around. Well, her owner and my roommate broke up, so I wasn’t dogsitting her anymore, but I had a random idea: ask for the breeder’s email and see if I can adopt a dog from the same parents.

As luck would have it, after I emailed the guy he let me know that Bella’s parents were having another litter of puppies. I jumped on the opportunity to reserve one. It was not a traditional breeder, it was just a guy who had a Papillon female and a Maltese male and they were having their second and final litter.

A few weeks or so went by without any updates, and I was starting to get worried the breeder forgot about me, but on Memorial Day of 2010, Azzurri was born and I got an email to let me know I would be getting a puppy from the litter. They sent pictures of the puppies and asked which one I would like to have. Azzurri stood out because of his big blue puppy eyes. All the puppies were adorable, but he was the one I fell in love with before even meeting him.

The school year ended; my roommate moved out; the World Cup happened. And then it was time to get the dog.

Azzurri was in Paso Robles, California, and I was in Eugene, Oregon. I didn’t have a car, and I couldn’t rent a car at a good price because of my age. So, I gave a friend $100 to borrow their car for the trip and headed to California to get Azzurri.

On the drive down after I hit the California border all I ate was In-N-Out. One in Redding, one in San Jose, and then I think the one in Redding again on the way back. Mmmm, double-doubles animal style…but I digress. I left drove almost continuously for 12 hours. By the time I got to Paso Robles it was past midnight and I was tired, so I spent the night in the Jeep at the Walmart I was picking Azzurri up at in the morning. It was uncomfortable and cold, but I didn’t care.

In the morning I woke up quite a bit earlier than the time the guy was supposed to meet me. Having nothing to do, I decided to drive around and see what Paso Robles was like. It was absolutely beautiful. A quiet town with lots of rural areas and farms, a welcome change from the scenery of Eugene.

After wasting enough time and gas, I headed back to the Walmart to wait. Shortly after I got there, my phone rang. It was the breeder and he was at Walmart! I found him in the parking lot, paid him $300 for the dog plus $50 extra just because, and then I laid eyes on Azzurri for the first time.

He was so incredibly tiny and adorable. His fur was so fluffy and soft and his eyes were even bluer in person. Since the day I saw him the first time, he has been my baby boy. I had never loved something so much before I picked him up with my hands for the first time.

After saying thank you and goodbye to the breeder I got back on my way. The drive back took about three hours longer because I had to make a lot of stops to make sure Azzurri could take care of his bathroom breaks. Though we also stopped so I could stuff my face with In-N-Out at least once.

When I got back to Oregon, I finally let my parents know I got a dog despite them saying I shouldn’t.

He started out living with me in my apartment but when we had to go home after summer term for a few weeks he had to live at my parents’ house. He started out living in the garage in his kennel, and then my dad suggested we put him in the laundry room. He stayed in the laundry room for a while, and we got a baby-gate so he could see us while in the laundry room. Azzurri has some serious hops though, and ever since he figured out he could jump the gate, he’s been a free-roaming house dog.

Fast forward six years… Azzurri has given me more love and happiness than I ever could have hoped for. He unfortunately developed a tumor and has cancer as of this year, but he is still happy and my little baby boy. His attitude is always uplifting and he is the best dog I ever could have asked for.

I love you Azzurri!

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