Even though I'm one of the grown-ups in the house, one of the decision makers, one of the veto powers, I'm still not sure how it came to be that the Ayres family decided to get a dog.
Andy has been a firm no on the idea of a dog. Truth be told, I liked this because it made it safe for me to want a dog. Andy and I are dog people, but we are also parents of four active kids. Adding a dog to our mix of chaos and energy and full schedule doesn't make much sense.
But it happened, around late November or early December, as I'm praying to understand the goodness of God like Abraham understands it, Andy says, "I think it might be time to get a dog."
At first I laughed. "Oh, that's just a brilliant idea," I said and laughed some more.
Andy laughed too and added: "I'm serious. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but I think it's time."
I stopped laughing and turned to look him in the eyes. "Are you insane? I say I want a dog, but I don't want to clean up after a dog and I don't want the whole house chewed up because of a dog and it's crazy enough getting four kids to the eye doctor and four kids to the dentist and four kids to the pediatrician, and now we want to add vet visits?"
Those eyes I fell in love with sparkle. "Yep, that's what I'm saying."
"Whatever," I said, which meant this conversation is over.
Except the idea kept festering. There was only one thing to do: I prayed.
Before I knew it, I was researching dogs. I typed into the search box:
family dog that doesn't shed, slobber, or run away
It turns out there are quizzes you can take to find the best dog for your family. Andy laughed at my answers. "The only dog that's going to spit out is Books," he said.
|Books has been our family dog for many years.|
"I think Books is a very fine dog," I said and hit submit.
The list of five recommended dogs were elite breeds, well over $2500 per puppy. It didn't make sense to spend that much money on a puppy.
We kept researching. There was a breed that kept turning up again and again. It wasn't ever in the top five, but it was consistently on the list as breeds to consider. We didn't entertain the idea of a Rottweiler.
"Why don't we check the shelter?" I asked.
Andy gave me a tired look. "We spend a lot of time making right others' parenting mistakes. I was kinda hoping we could get a puppy and mold her to our family. We'll make mistakes, but not the kind of mistakes that come from abuse and abandonment."
The shelter was nixed.
We kept looking. I kept praying. It seemed right to get a puppy for Christmas. The days rolled and Christmas neared and breeder after breeder fell through.
Late one night a week before Christmas, I said, "I'm checking the shelter website."
The page loaded to reveal a six month old Rottweiler puppy. I filled out the interest form. The next day Andy and I met at the animal shelter. The Rottie was already spoken for, but we could still look at her and the other dogs. We spent time with four different dogs, playing and walking, and realizing the Ayres family dog would most certainly come from the shelter.
We loved the Rottweiler puppy, but the shelter still didn't hear from the interested family before it was time for us to leave. We decided to return at 4:30 with our kids. If the Rottie was available we would take her and if not, there were other dogs who would make fine additions to the Ayres family.
Andy picked up the kids from school. I stopped and picked up dog supplies and Christmas wrapping paper. I wrapped four packages and put them under the tree.
The kids ran inside. "Dad said we get to have Christmas early!"
I laughed. "Dad and I are too excited. We just have to give you a present early."
They each picked a present and we made the deal clear. "These are all family gifts. So what you open isn't yours, but the family's."
"We're missin' the dog!" Jay said. "When we gettin' the dog?"
"As soon as you can get your shoes on and into the car!" There was a whirlwind of bodies and shoestrings and coat zippers and door knobs and silence.
Andy hugged me. "This is going to be very good."
The shelter called on our way to let us know the Rottie puppy was available.
We took her out to the play area. It was instant love.
|Meeting Kate at the Shelter.|
I raised my eyebrows. "She hasn't even been part of our family for two hours and you already love her like she's real family? You mean, it's true that you can feel like family instantly?"
Jay sighed, rolled his eyes, and said, "Be quiet, Mom."
Before Kate, Jay believed the longer a child is with a family the more that child is loved.
Andy is right, this is going to be very good.