I could also title this post “How Facebook Convinced Me to Get A Dog,” because in a lot of ways that’s what happened.
I’ve always been a turning point sort of person. I’ll mull over thoughts and ideas for a long while before something simple– like a TED talk, new book, or Facebook article– flips a switch and I am able to clearly and decisively make a big change in my life. This is what happened with the dog and the article. The dog was initially brought up by Milo, who around June last year started asking if we could get a dog. I grew up having dogs, and always imagined we would have one too, but the series of pet-free apartments we’ve lived combined with the regular addition of a baby human to the family every two years kept the idea sort of far away. When he first started asking about getting a dog, Plum was only eighteen months old, and I wasn’t ready to entertain the idea. I told him “When Plum is five we’ll get a dog. It will be so great!” And that was my plan. Get the kids grown up and into elementary school before getting a dog, so I could take care of the kids first, then the dog later.
As the months passed by, he kept asking, and the idea became more real. Well, maybe not a dog, but getting a pet for Milo to care for seemed sort of inevitable, and we started talking about the entry-level variety: fish, turtles, hamsters, etc. Anxious to be encouraging and involved as a parent, I appeased Milo’s puppy hunger by agreeing to visit the local animal shelter to visit the dogs. Which we did, and I left feeling ready to adopt every stray and shelter animal I could find. I’m a bleeding heart. Milo felt the same way and told me, bright eyed, “Look at this one, Mom, he’s free to a good home!” (This One was Jack, a 7 year old Jack Russell Terrier who was so hyper I think he bounced between all four corners of his kennel in the 30 seconds we passed by him!)
It was around this time that I read The Article on Facebook, which turns out to have nothing at all to do with animals and everything to do with watching our kids grow up, put childhood behind them, and move onto adolescence without us. Because the dog idea had been on my mind, tapping me on the shoulder to ask when was the best time to get a dog, the switch that flipped for me as I read this article answered “NOW”. Now, while my children are young, while they’re home and excited to see me, and excitedly asking for a puppy. Now, when we’re all learning and growing and adapting to newness as they hit the milestones of childhood. Now, when we spend our weekends together as a family, hiking and camping and playing in the yard.
It hit me that when Plum is five years old, going to kindergarten, it will just be me at home with the dog. The kids will be away all day most days, starting to have more homework. Our already busy afternoons will be even more scheduled with lessons and acitivites. Whether I like it or not, someday soon their weekends will start to be filled with friends more than family. So, I decided it was time for us to get a puppy to enjoy with the rest of my young kids, and have them all grow up together! Instead of a baby human, this time my two-years-later would be filled by a puppy. The actual timeline of choosing and getting our puppy is another story.
After deciding indeed we would go straight for a dog (instead of caring for and keeping alive a less-interactive and fun pet like a turtle) we looked and researched and looked some more. I spent months searching shelters and rescues to find the puppy who would be a great fit with our family, young children and all. After multiple unanswered inquiries, a couple meetings that didn’t feel quite right, and even fostering a beautiful greyhound puppy for a few weeks before her adoption, we decided on a beautiful Australian Shepherd puppy from a rancher in Mesa, Arizona who was an old friend of my father.She was the only puppy who had felt just right and not left me anxious about the process of caring for, training, and loving a dog as part of our family. We went in with eyes wide open, knowing that once we made a decision, this would be our dog for life. That was both exciting and daunting. Total commitment meant we need to make the best possible decision for our family.
I’ll leave all of the social and emotional commentary about adopting versus buying from a breeder aside for another post and another day–but I will say that while I always always imagined I would rescue, when it came right down to it we had to do what would be best for our family and our children, and this was it for us.So, in May we got a puppy. About one year after the idea first surfaced. Quincy Jean Beauty Queen is what we ended up calling her, after wading through maybe thirty other options. (If I’m being totally honest I still think I like Clover or Biscuit as much and consider changing it from time to time.) It was way harder to name the puppy than our children.
Life feels very much as we imagined it would–crazy! And she is wonderful. Definitely a chewing, peeing, barking, destructo-dog, as all puppies are, but totally wonderful.
With three young kids, the puppy falls right in step. We’re working on housebreaking with Quincy and potty training with Plum. Milo is learning to throw a straight pitch and Quincy it the perfect retriever. Somehow our already complete family feels even a little more complete, and though the logistics and management of feeding, caring for, teaching and loving all of the kids and the dog are a lot, that’s what we signed up for.
Our life feels a little more full in the best way. We’ve had to adjust to some of the differences between babies and puppies, such as not being able to bring her into stores when I’m shopping, or where to leave her when we go out of town (actually, so far she’s come along everywhere!) but those are all small things. The logistics are all made up for by the happiness of my kids playing with her in the yard, little Plum yelling “kinsy jeeeeen” as she follows her around the lawn with a toy. They’re all still young, my kids and the dog, and I’m so happy they’re all still here at home, loving spending time with me and with each other.