October 16, 2013 by themommahen
Three months. That’s all we had you for. In that time you chewed everything in sight, you destroyed stuff, you Houdinied your way out of confinements, you jumped up on us constantly, you refused to poop anywhere but in the middle of the yard where we played the most. Yet, despite all of that, you completely won us over.
And here’s the kicker. I didn’t want a puppy. I haven’t wanted another dog since Cozzie, our retired racing greyhound we had to help over to the other side three-and-a-half years ago. Because he was the best dog. Nothing against you or Furball #1. He just happened to be the Best. Dog. Ever.
So excuse me if I didn’t exactly welcome you puppies with open arms. Not to mention that I already had a puppy in H#3. So add another non-potty-trained, hyper, stubborn, living thing that I had to keep that way into the mix? Well, I hope you can understand my reluctance.
But you know the worst thing about you? The absolute worst? You broke my heart. That’s right. Me, who didn’t want a puppy, much less two. You won me over. You broke me. You changed me. See, I was done. Moved on to the next stage of raising living things. No more babies, of any kind, at least in my mind. I had to focus on the next stage, in order to not look back too much at what I was leaving behind. And I almost did it, too, if it hadn’t been for you.
You were mentioned a few times, as a joke, before I met you. And my response was the same every time. I laughed, shook my head and said, “Ummmm, no. Just no.”
And then you were brought over. In a cruel and unusual twist, I wasn’t asked again, you were just brought over, trembling with fear at leaving everything you’d ever known, and thrust into my arms with a smile and “Take this back to North Carolina. He’s yours.”
When I protested, while holding your tiny little warm puppy-breath self, he said, “Hey, these puppies go for thousands of dollars. I’m giving you one.”
Always a sucker for a bargain, I hesitated and let my guard down. That’s all it took for him to jump back in his truck and leave, you still trembling, me in shock.
Looking back, that was it. I’m nothing if not maternal, and you being dropped in our laps with nowhere to go, well, that pretty much sealed the deal. You were mine from that point on, whether I liked it or not. The Husband really wanted you to be his. He had always wanted one like you, him being the frustrated farmer and you being the prototypical farm dog. But you chose me. I don’t know why – I would say you were a glutton for punishment – but I think you sensed something in me. A weakness? A crack? A chink in the armor?
Up until you came along, I was so hardened. I would hear people talking about their dogs and pets as if they were their children and I would inwardly question their judgment. “There are bigger things,” I would say to myself. “It’s just a pet,” I would think. Gone was any empathy I used to feel. I had forgotten how to love a pet. How awful I feel now, realizing that.
But you changed that. I started realizing, somewhat in comparison to you if I’m being truthful, just what a great dog Furball #1 was, especially with the Hatchlings. I also started forgiving all those little puppy transgressions, as I realized that they were just that – mistakes of a puppy. I remembered how it felt to be loved unconditionally by a bundle of warm, wriggly fur. I was thankful that you were so patient with H#3, despite his own puppy transgressions of tugging, squealing, pulling, grabbing and throwing. You never once threatened him. You never once threatened the chickens.
I started seeing you change and respond to our rules and guidelines. You would submit and show me your belly when you made me my maddest by jumping up and scratching the Hatchlings, sometimes in the face. But we were working it out.
You were so much better about jumping on people, I could tell you were almost over it and that was really the only thing you had left to work on. Gramps had found a great article that recommended withholding attention and literally turning our backs on you until you put all fours on the ground, then we were to shower you with attention and praise. We did and you responded. The kids were still struggling with it because they didn’t know how to do it, so there were still frustrated outbursts from The Husband and me. We’re sorry about that.
You were getting the hang of catching balls and frisbees in mid-air, growing into your breed’s characteristics. We’d never had a real-life dog that could do tricks, and we all had so much fun watching you do them with wild abandon and enthusiasm.
I was getting excited to see the type of dog you were going to grow into.
Then these last rainy days came along and we weren’t outside with you as much. Our daily routine of playing catch and chase and fetch with H#3 while the older ones were at school was interrupted by wet, slop and mud. I now realize that’s a lame excuse. It’s only dirt – it washes off. I wish we’d played with you yesterday when H#3 asked me to. I wish I hadn’t said no. I wish I hadn’t been so focused on getting him down for a nap because around that time is when you wandered off away from us for the first time in your short life. I wish I’d noticed sooner. I wish I hadn’t noticed because I was prepared to be annoyed at you for jumping up on me as I left o pick up the Hatchlings from school. I wish my heart hadn’t sunk as soon as I realized you didn’t even come to us on our way to the car. I wish you had been on the deck when I called Granny from the car as we went down the driveway and asked her to look for you. I wish you’d run out to greet us when we got home. I wish you’d jumped up on me, muddy paws and all, when I got out of the car.
I hope you weren’t scared when you were gone. I hope you hadn’t gotten lost. I hope you were chasing something you’d never seen before, filled with wonder and silly puppy thoughts. I hope you didn’t see the car. I hope you didn’t feel anything. I hope it was quick. I hope you know you changed me.
You never left my side, not for very long. You always came when I called. I still know there are bigger things than losing a pet, but I also have remembered it’s okay – and even good for us – to love them as part of our family. I am forever indebted to you for that. We all are.
Thanks, boy, you really were a good dog. One of the Best. Dogs. Ever.