So. Well then. Yes.
One night last month, our dog who had been in declining health for some time, fell down and was unable to get back up. We had been caring for him for so long – the potty accidents, the food scavenging, the constant licking – knowing he was at the end of his life, but not knowing, really, how or when it would end. And suddenly there it was.
We nursed him through the night, and loved on him all morning. And then we said goodbye, because there was nothing left to do.
It was one of the hardest days of my life. He had been my every day companion for 13 years. He got up with me in the morning, greeted me at the door every single time I had to go out, and went to bed with me at night. And suddenly, he was gone. The day before I was yelling at him for eating the entire loaf of bread, and I wished with all my heart I could just have him back to feed him all the steak and bread and food he wanted. So many regrets, and yet, I know we were doing the best we could with a very frustrating situation.
Coming home was hard with no wagging tail at the door. The bedroom felt empty. The house was no longer home.
It was clear, we are dog people, and dog people need a dog. Even if it’s the least logical and sane decision, we had to. And so the puppy hunt began.
We’ll just say, it made doing an IVF cycle seem like cake. You’d think when you want to adopt a mutt from a shelter you can just walk in and get one, yes? No. No no no.
Many of them required a fenced yard (which we do not have).
Others will not adopt to families with children under 10/8/5 (which we do have).
All of the require that if you are adopting a puppy, someone be home all day (not a problem).
Most of of them required an application detailing, among other things:
- Your employment history and status.
- How long the dog will be left alone during the day.
- Where the dog will be when left alone.
- Where the dog will get exercise.
- What the dog will eat. (One required you feed only raw homemade diets.)
- The full vaccination history of every other pet in your home, as well as the details of why any pets you had previously were no longer with you. (Did you surrender? What was the cause of death? Did you euthanize?)
- 2 personal references.
- Vet reference.
- And a home visit.
Yes, a home visit. To adopt a dog. From an animal shelter. WTF?
And the icing on the cake is that MOST of them did not have dogs locally. You adopt the dog based on a picture and then they ship the dog to you. Right. That’s sane, sure.
I was like “let’s just have another baby, fuck.” So all these requirements narrowed us down to 2 shelters, because I’m not hoop jumping. One kept getting unappealing puppy shipments (isn’t this sounding HORRIBLE?) and the other had really nice looking dogs … but gave us shit about having kids. Oh no you can’t see PUPPIES until we’ve had them for at least 2 weeks to get to know them!
So. I wrote that shelter a long letter saying, basically, I have 30+ years experience with dogs, we know what we’re doing, how can you say you’re SAVING dogs when you’re forcing them to live in a shelter longer than necessary because YOU don’t think they’ll do well with my family whom you have never met. The. Hell. So but it worked and she was like “sure” and we loaded up the car and went to get us a dog.
And we did.
He was older than we wanted. And he was bigger than we wanted – by a lot. And not even remotely what we were looking for. But. We were torn between two puppies and when it came down to it, I could not leave him there. The woman expected us to come back in a day or two to get him and I was like “nope, not walking away and leaving him here thinking he was rejected. He needs a home, and he needs a home tonight.”
And so. He came home with us.
It’s been an adjustment. We had our honeymoon phase, and now we’re in the “testing our limits” phase. My arms are covered with bites and scratches, and I am exhausted.
Honestly, it’s like having another child in so many ways. So many people say you stop feeling that way once you’ve had kids, but I never felt like having our old dog was like having a child – having a puppy with small kids though does. The constant demands on my body and time. The discipline it takes to be precisely consistent. Needing to arrange care for him for the next few months on days when I’ll be out for excessively long. The kids are all home this week on vacation, and I feel like I have 4 kids instead of 3.
It’s been good, but it’s been hard. I know it will get better, but it’s not better NOW. (It also does not help that we had to get a big tree taken down and they utterly destroyed our yard in the process, so we’re fairly cooped up.) There are parts of the day when I feel like this was a terrible decision. And there are parts of the day when I know we needed a dog and this is part of having a dog.
So, I’m busy and bitten and the rest of life still keeps going on, because that’s how it is. But every time that tail goes wild just because he catches sight of me, things just feel right again.