FEATURE — Somewhere between almost moving to Denver and my father-in-law dying, I agreed to a dog. A puppy to be specific. A beautiful, fluffy, brown-eyed boy formerly named “pup.”
I should have known better. I’d seen my mom succumb to something similar shortly after my childhood home burned to the ground in a hot and windy Southern California wildfire.
Emotional traumas will wear down a mom’s sense like that.
Puppies, along with their soul-penetrating eyes and sweet puppy breath, should come with warning labels: Do not come within 15 feet if you have recently 1) suffered a loss, or 2) had a major life event.
I am a cautionary tale for those who do not heed. Now I am waking up at 3:27 a.m. to let out said darling puppy and smuggling him into family reunion destinations that do not technically allow dogs.
My husband and boys had been lobbying for five solid months for a dog. This particular effort was different from previous ones because my husband was a party to it. He, like me, had been set against a furry pet.
Why? We travel too much. I’m allergic to fur and dander. We have enough crazy energy in our house with three boys.
And besides, our track record of previous, lesser pet ownership was not exactly stellar. I’ll spare you a complete list of our failures, but when you can’t even manage a beta fish (overfed by a loving toddler until he exploded – the fish, not the toddler), we argued pretty convincingly that enough was enough.
Plus, there was the whole my-husband-got-slightly-maimed-by-a-dog-when-he-was-a-child thing.
But then my biggest ally turned on me and got pro-dog. In spite of the above evidence.
What did it? A dream. He woke up with an overwhelming and unshakable feeling that our boys needed the unconditional love of a dog.
I fought against this new revelation, knowing that even if that were true (and it probably was because he’s a spiritual dude), it would still mean more work for me as the primary caregiver. I can emphatically say that I don’t need any more of that.
No matter how much my boys swore they’d do it, I knew I’d be picking up poop every day along with all of the kid carpools. Not to mention the new duties of bathing, walking, training and vigilant shoe protection.
And the poop. Did I already say poop? Because sometimes I’m still scrubbing that out of boys’ underwear, and I can firmly attest to being over it. In all its forms.
But after my husband turned down the dreamy job in Denver because it wasn’t best for our family and we unexpectedly lost his dad, I had to reconsider that dog dream. Maybe our old pet history was history, and we really did need that unabashed, chase-your-tail-til-you’re-dizzy energy in our family to balance out some of the hard stuff.
Even if we travel. And even if I am allergic to most animals.
Two days after he declined the new job, and a week after his father’s passing, my husband found himself sitting in a dog pen, wearing a suit and tie, supine before the doodle dog gods. Within seconds, a brindled pup walked over to his right foot and started licking his ankle.
That’s all it took. He knew this was the dog he’d dreamt about. This was the dog for our family.
The rest of the family was just as easily smitten days later when we met the pup who’d chosen my husband. Especially me.
Who was this woman, and what had she done to the sensible mother of three boys? Whoever she was, she was now leading the brainstorming session of names for our new addition as we drove up Provo Canyon to the Heber City Cemetery to visit our fresh family grave.
In the last hours of his life, my father-in-law only talked about the things that mattered most to him: his family, nature, visiting Jerusalem and his childhood dog, Ring.
I can’t help but wonder if, in 75 years, when it’s my boys’ time to leave this earth, they’ll be thinking of their dog, Albus, and all the joy he brought to their lives.
And I’ll be glad I didn’t heed that puppy warning after all. Who am I kidding? I already am.
Kat Dayton is a columnist for St. George News. Any opinions given are her own and not representative of St. George News.
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