After twenty-three years of marriage, four kids, four houses, two snakes, one albino hedgehog, one guinea pig and two feral cats, my husband and I have a dog. We had always sworn we’d never get a dog-for years four kids seemed like enough work. As our children aged, they begged and cajoled, promising that they’d do all the work. We would point out they appeared to have a hard time unloading the dishwasher promptly when asked. Then, as the kids aged, I began to ask my husband to change his mind. I believed they were old enough to be responsible and, even better, than the responsibility would be good for them. My husband was not convinced.
A month ago, my daughter and I went out to buy a hedgehog for her twin brother for his birthday. It was the one thing he’d really wanted and they really are quite cute and not a lot of work. But, as we went from pet store to Pet Smart, we couldn’t find one. Somehow, we decided to go to our county’s pound and see if they had any suggestions for how we might procure such a pet.
Our county has a lovely new pound and it, like shelters all over the country, is teeming with abandoned and found dogs and cats. We looked at all the cats—I grew up with cats and think they are interesting animals to watch. Then, we wandered into the dog room. It was mostly full of large cages with large to medium sized dogs that had some measure of pit bull in them. Most of them were barking. None of them called to me. Then, we turned the corner, and there, in a cement room all by herself was a tiny dog. She stood there, quiet and watchful, staring up at us and we stared in at her. I felt as if I could hear her thoughts and they were “Please get me out of here. I don’t belong here. I just need a nice family to love.”
And that was it. We played with her for a while, saw that she was a quiet, gentle dog, came home and asked my husband to change his mind on the canine ban. My husband brought up the dishwasher reluctance and my youngest son—the one who wanted to hedgehog—said, “Dad, there’s not a lot of emotional reward in unloading the dishwasher. It will be different with a dog.” My husband caved and we went back a picked up our new dog. We named her Sophie.
We’ve had her for four weeks now and everyone, especially my husband, is madly in love with her. She’s a tiny little thing, just under nine pounds and at seven months is close to full grown. She doesn’t bark hardly at all, is almost completely housebroken, crates well, and really does just want to love and be loved. At the pound, we were told she was picked up on the streets, but it’s clear she hadn’t spent much time there. She’s healthy, easy going, and gentle. It’s clear someone had invested time in training her—I’ll never understand why someone abandoned her.
So she’s ours now. We joke that she’s Sophie, Head of Home Security. It really is a joke—she’s anything but an alpha dog and so little she’s even scared of basketballs. (She has learned to watch my sons play from a safe distance.) I won’t say that my husband and I were wrong to not get a dog when our kids were younger. She is a lot of work—all that puppy energy and a tiny bladder—but it’s doable now that the kids are older and are indeed responsible for her when they are home. I have pointed out to my husband that, in a little over three years, our youngest two will head off to college and then it will just be me, him and Sophie. He smiles and rubs her belly and says that will work out just fine.
So there’s my heartwarming pet story. Do you have one you’d like to share?