Dear Dennis,

When you came home with me from the barn you didn’t have a name. But you soon earned one.

One day shortly after ‘kitten’ arrived at home with me, we were out, shopping or walking or something. I don’t really remember where we went. I do remember walking into the living area of our little one bedroom apartment in student housing.

There you were, across the room, clinging to the top of the curtains over the patio door. There was a moment of silence. Do we run, do we yell, do we just close the door and walk away?

In almost no time, the curtain rod tore off the wall and down you tumbled in a tangle of fabric.

You were fine.

And that’s how you earned your name: Dennis the Menace.

As a family with one income, paying for veterinary school, we didn’t have a lot of extras, but my husband made sure to mark a few special days each year. One was our anniversary. On that evening, he arrived home with a lovely bunch of grocery store flowers that I proudly arranged in a vase we’d received as a wedding gift.

The next morning, there was a horrendous crash. You were still on the table with a leaf in your mouth when we ran into the room to see a smashed vase, water everywhere and shredded flower petals strewn across the table.

And the name stuck.