Dog Love

This may come off as a rambling of my love affair with my dog. Or it may be my endorphin high talking. Or perhaps a combination of both.

I have always loved animals, but somehow this is just different.

When Eric and I were first married, he deployed and I had a dumb-attack and adopted two Chesapeake/Lab puppies. Overwhelmed with the cuteness overload, I bit off more than either of us could chew and ended up adopting them out to more suitable families. (Who knew that those cute little puppies would be so MASSIVE!?) It was hard, and I was sad, but I knew it was for their own good. We were both working full time, traveling, and weren’t in a place to be able to give them the consistency they needed. I see this so clearly now as hindsight is indeed 20/20.

We adopted Buck, and partly due to our previous foray into dog parenting, I was completely blindsided by how hard our whole family, and myself in particular, have fallen for this little goofy guy. I continued to follow Heartbeats Dog Rescue on Facebook (the organization we adopted Buck through) and noticed they had this little puppy that was up for adoption. I showed the picture to Eric and he just shook his head and asked, “Really?!

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Seriously?! How do you resist this face?! They tell us she’s a “Chug” (Chihuahua/Pug mix)!

We took the kids and Buck to meet this little girl, Whitney. It would really all depend on him and how he got along with her. The last thing I wanted to do was bring in another dog and have fights and problems between the two. We walked in and they sniffed each other, wagging tails as if they’d known each other forever, then she proceeded to crawl right up on Jake’s lap, snuggle in and lick his face. The grin on that boy’s face nearly made me cry. She then wiggled right up onto Hannah and she was smitten. How do these furry little loveballs do it? They create such a fun, deep joy and a sense of contentment that just feels so right there are scarcely words to describe it. They live in the moment, eager, and happy to just be.

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We adopted her, and even Eric had to admit he was taken with her. She is such a love, a bit more mellow than Buck, but still a puppy so she brings out the playfulness in him.

The goal was to be able to walk and run with them both, but was a little nervous about it Whitney seemed a little confused by the leash, didn’t know any commands, and I wondered if I’d once again bit off more than I could chew. Hannah and I worked with her, teaching her how to sit. She is eager to learn, eager to please and picked it up right away. Her little expectant face gazing up at mine, her whole body wagged as praise was lavished on her.

I’ve watched enough Dog Whisperer and Cesar 911 to learn a bit, and with the dog training classes I’ve been taking I  feel confident, (or calm assertive) and more of a pack leader. Every time I watch an episode of Cesar helping a family with their animals, I cry. Like ugly cry. There’s just something about they way a dog loves. I’ve also thought it amazing when he teaches dog owners to lead their packs, walking many dogs at once. The people always talk about how empowering the experience is. Again, cue the waterfalls from my eyes.

Their leashes on, I took a deep breath and mentally let go of the sense of failure I had from our other dogs. I could be a pack leader. I could be a good dog mom. Buck has been proof of that. Out the door we went. They did great. We had some kinks to work out at first with who was going to be where, but after a couple of minutes, everyone fell into place. Buck on the outside, Whitney in the middle and then me leading the way. We practiced our commands, we ran, we sat, we said good morning to our neighbors. To say it was 3 of the most fun miles would be an understatement. It was empowering, exhilarating, and good luck wiping the perma-grin off of my face!

I love these dogs.

They have filled a void I didn’t know existed. They may be rescue dogs, but ultimately they do so much more for us than we ever do for them.10849809_10203325058911654_4791267833301431794_n

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What I Didn’t See Coming

I knew having a pet would be great. We’ve had animals before, but the kids have not. I knew they would love whatever animal we adopted. What I didn’t see coming is the way I would feel watching them learn, love, and grow with this animal.

Seriously. It’s been 2 days. I can’t believe I’m even writing this. That’s what’s so bizarre about this whole thing. I have fallen hard for this guy. I’ve also fallen for the way he’s unearthed a compassion in our children. Those are the things I didn’t see coming.

The pride in our daughter’s face as she smiles up at me as she’s feeding Buck.

Her sense of responsibility in checking to see if he has enough water or a comfy blanket upon which to lay. Even her willingness to scoop poop! She genuinely enjoys taking care of him. “There’s no fire ants that will hurt Buck, right Mom?”

Our son’s laughter and the way he calls, “Here Buck! C’mere boy!” I have to stop what I’m doing just to savor those moments.

When dropping Jacob off at school, he asks if I will bring Buck in the car to pick him up. He wants to see him first thing. I think Buck feels the same way based on how he looked longingly out the window as Jake went into the building. 

This dog has entered our lives and in 2 days feels like he’s always been a member of our family.

I really did not see this coming.

I am so grateful.

But, We’re Cat People…

There are two neighborhood dogs that are allowed to roam free, or perhaps they are Houdini pups, and they find their way to our house to pull the heartstrings of my very loving daughter. She has been begging for a pet, a dog, for a very long time. She is longing for something to mother and love. Every time these guys wander around, out comes Mother Hannah with her water buckets to give them a drink as she plops down to offer her lap to anybody who may want to snuggle.

Eric had animals growing up, as did I, but we both gravitate toward the feline variety. After a rather sudden decision to check out a local animal shelter, we told the kids we had a surprise for them and to get in the car. They both kept asking if we were going to a toy store, or to buy candy. (As if!)  “Even better,” we laughed.

Driving up to The Cattery (the local no-kill, cage free cat-only shelter) we walked in to a room of about 25 cats. Some were feisty, didn’t want to be held, lazy, sleeping all over and in every nook and cranny you can imagine. The kids were excited, but we couldn’t pinpoint one animal we could all agree on. (Go figure.) Eric was drawn to one orange tabby, but it wanted nothing to do with the kids. I wanted to take home every blind 3-legged case, and Hannah just wanted one to love. Since we couldn’t make a decision, we were advised that there were some more of the Cattery kittens available for adoption at the local PetSmart.

Little did we know, we were walking into a pet adoption festival and there were animals EVERYWHERE that were waiting to be adopted into their forever homes. We walked toward the kitten room, and on the way walked by a series of dog pens. As I looked down the row, this tan and white little dog caught my eye. He was looking right at me. I thought he was cute and walked over, and he never stopped looking at me. Asking to take him out and hold him, the volunteer unlocked the cage, scooped him up and handed “Buck” to me. He licked my face, much to my husband’s disgust, took a deep breath and I felt him totally relax in my arms. I was done. Game over. Puddle of fur-baby goo.

I turned around to see my husband eyeing me through the glass of the cat room and as he saw me cradling this pup, he rolled his eyes and put his arms up in an X. “NO,” he mouthed vehemently. I gently put Buck back in the pen and joined my family to peruse the kitties. “We really are cat people,” I thought consoling myself. The three of them decided on a kitten named Lincoln. He was cute, playful and as I looked at him, thought, “Meh. It’s a cat.” This is not like me at all. Like I said – I’ve always loved cats. But this one, while adorable, did zilch for me. We walked out to start the paperwork for the cat. The attendant told us she was sorry, but that cat had already been adopted.

Do you ever have one of those days where as you lay your head on the pillow at night, the events that transpired are so random and out of the ordinary you marvel at just how it all came to pass?  Some call it the Butterfly Effect. That was our day. I have never felt this drawn to an animal. I bonded big time with my kitten from junior high, and loved the pets we had growing up, but I just felt a strange connection with this guy. To be super whoo-hooey, it felt like I really wasn’t making the decision at all, that it just was supposed to be and I was just there. Not sure if that makes sense, but there it is.

Eric laughed as I whipped my head around wide-eyed when we realized that the kitten would not be joining our family. “Seriously?!” he asked. The kids were getting amped up and feeding on the jokes thrown our way by the volunteer workers that were pleading my case to Eric. (My poor husband!) Eric decided to take a walk around the store to think. The kids and I joined him after petting Buck a little more. I leveled with him and shared that for whatever reason, I felt drawn to this dog. I know we aren’t dog people. I know this isn’t what we planned. (We had cat litter in the trunk!) He agreed that it would probably be a better fit for our boisterous family to have a dog versus a cat.

Walking back over, we signed the paperwork, picked up some necessities and walked out with a dog on a leash.

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Kids and dogs… ’nuff said.
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Our newest family member being photobombed.

If someone would have told me we were going to adopt a dog this weekend I would have laughed. No way. I don’t like poop scooping, I don’t want to deal with animal hair, and as much as the kids plead and beg and promise they will take care of the pet, I know it will fall on me. And, we are cat people. We don’t do dogs.

One look at this guy and none of that mattered.

It was time. We are ready, the kids are ready, and Buck is a perfect fit for our family.

We are a dog family.