Although there were definitely some unhappy endings (see Furry Friends-Part 1), I always had a pet while growing up. For short amounts of time during his childhood, Mr. Legs had lizards and mice but he was not used to dogs or cats so he was not anxious to share our home with either.
During the first 20 years of our life together, we moved regularly so having a pet wasn’t practical. Other than a couple of unfortunate goldfish, our kids hadn’t had a pet. When we moved here and anticipated staying in one place for the foreseeable future, it seemed like the right time to add an animal to our family. It would be good for our children to experience having a pet and being responsible for one.
I asked about puppies when I was out and about in town. When I heard about a litter of mixed breed puppies, I went to look at them. I carefully checked out each one, then I went home to consider adopting one. Soon after that, I went back and came home with a cute tan ball of fluffy energy. I went during a weekday when the kids were at school. I wondered how to tell them the exciting news that we had an addition to the family. After some thought, I wrote a short poem and taped it to the door. It read like this:
I’m cute and cuddly
And I like to play.
Come in to meet me
I’m here to stay!
I waited with great anticipation for them to come home. It seemed like it took forever. Then, like a blast of energy, they bolted through the front door and into the house. Their shouts were an obvious sign of their excitement. Their eyes were wide as they exclaimed “Where is she?! Where is she?! And then I realized that they hadn’t understood the note. Maybe they had only read some of the words before they could not contain their excitement any longer and came running. “Where is who?” I asked. It certainly wasn’t a puppy they were looking for…not a kitten, or a bunny or anything else that I thought they might guess. It was…….their Grandma!!
I couldn’t blame them. She fit the description perfectly – cute and cuddly and she likes to play. After getting over their disappointment that Grandma was not waiting for them inside, they settled for the puppy.
That puppy was more energy than we bargained for. People said “give the puppy stage a year”. When it lasted longer, people reassured us and said “give it another year”. When it lasted longer, people just smiled. I took him to obedience classes. We didn’t pass. We haven’t been successful in training him not to jump on visitors, so it remains a challenge to handle him when people come to the door. Three years ago, we went through five challenging months of managing him during our remodeling with workers here every day. The workers all loved him – he was like a project mascot. I had written in the poem that he had come to stay, and he did. We’ve been patient. We have persevered. Thirteen years later, he’s still here. He has certainly lived well past any of my childhood pets. It was, in fact, good for the kids, but they have grown up and moved away and the dog remains. Mr. Legs, who wasn’t eager to have a dog, has been loved by him through the years and they enjoy their nightly walks together.
As my condition has worsened, the dog has spent his days closer to me. I’m convinced he understands that I have lost much of my ability. At 13, he’s not so young anymore either. We’re aging together. We do what we can for each other and comfort each other whenever possible.
Who’s here? The family dog, that’s who. He’s a lot of work, but he’s still cute and cuddly.