Well, it wasn’t as simple as all that really. What you should know is that we have been a family without a dog for some time and this just did not feel quite right to any of us, save the toddler, who doesn’t know yet that he, too, is a “dog person”. You have your “cat people” and your “dog people” and your “bird people” and your “reptile people” and your ”eewww! animals!” people. We are a family of dog people. A family of dog people without a dog.
This is a very sad thing. Firefly and The Queen Bee tell everyone they meet the cumulative sad story of our dog history: The three dogs that grew old and died (they only really remember the last one, but the other two are part of our family’s history, so they include that in the story), and especially about the last one that died, our sweet Jack Russell Terrier, who had a tumor that required a leg to be amputated. After her tumor returned in her neck and she died, we grieved for her, oh, how we grieved for her.
Then we went on a homeschool field trip to an animal shelter and wound up adopting a calm, laid back, stray Labradoodle. He settled in just fine but became increasingly intolerant of the kids. And then, a moment of chaos and distraction, kids and dogs moving about, me swirling around in the kitchen making dinner and then, suddenly, fierce barking followed by cries and shrieks. Love Bug, our toddler, had been bitten. He was okay, thank goodness. No stitches required. But now we knew what we had to do.
If you want to feel like the absolute worst parent on the planet, then you should tell your kids that you are taking their beloved dog back to the shelter after they’ve longed for a dog and fallen in love with this particular dog. That was a very bad day. And since that day, they keep telling this story about all the dogs we’ve loved and lost and how they long for another one.
The Husband and I agreed a puppy was the answer. One who grew up with our kids and didn’t feel any need to place itself higher in the pack order. But I knew getting a puppy would just be too much for me. Too much chaos for a long time. Housebreaking and training a puppy while homeschooling two kids, potty training another kid and trying to keep some semblance of order in my house? Well, I knew I would not be ready for that for a couple more years. And that seemed too long to wait, too long to make the kids wait.
I kept thinking, we should wait, and certainly many of you reading this story will agree that we are not in our right minds. I, myself, have had this same thought. But as I watched my very intense oldest child caring for a relative’s dog, watched him speak calmly as he motioned her through her obedience exercises, take care of her without complaint and be calmed by the presence of her chin ever so gently resting on his knee, I thought, this is a good thing for him.
Finally, we came upon a solution. Adopt a grown dog that has been in a foster home placement and has a known history of living with kids, with a family. We located a rescue organization that did just that. And then we had to be patient. Because some of the dogs seemed great at first but upon deeper conversation, we found out that they jumped fences or knocked little kids down when they were playing or their history wasn’t very clear at all.
So we waited. And then, one day, I opened up my email when we just so happened to be at the beach, and saw this:
Even better than her picture was her description: lived with little kids, gentle, very well trained, needs to be with a family. Her foster home was about halfway between the beach and our hometown so we stopped to see her.
And she was great. I tugged on her ears and tail as my toddler might do and she didn’t even turn around. The kids laid on her and she looked perfectly content. They threw a tennis ball for her outside and she was thrilled. We watched as the foster mom gave her gentle verbal commands, off leash, and she heeded them. We were impressed.
She’s been home with us now for five days. So far, so good. The kids adore her. She follows me around in a quiet way, laying near me as I do laundry or cook a meal or do schoolwork with the kids. She is housebroken and knows basic commands and is so happy to see all of us.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed. The Labradoodle looked good at this point, too, then things went awry. I hope that doesn’t happen with our new dog. I don’t think it will but I’m guarding my heart. I don’t want to have to tell my kids again that they can’t keep a dog. As you can see, they are truly smitten with her.
And once again, things feel right in our home. You see, we are dog people, and now we have a dog.
UPDATE: Sydney has been with us for a year and a half now. She is the sweetest, most well-behaved dog. We often wonder why anyone would give her up. But whatever life circumstances led to her previous owners’ decisions to turn her over to the rescue organization, it couldn’t have been easy.
She is easy to love. We are so grateful to have her in our family. She has helped us all take up hiking, because she loves it so. She guards and protects our kids when they play outside. And she just simply wants to be with us, wherever we are. It’s an easy request to grant.
We are grateful to the LabRescue of LRCP for fostering her and facilitating our adoption of this wonderful dog. They are truly a top notch organization, full of dedicated and caring volunteers. Thanks to their efforts, 1,000 Labrador Retrievers found new and loving forever families in the year 2012 alone. Thank you, Lab Rescue, for bringing Sydney to our family!