After weeks of combined indecision and procrastination, Bec and I finally concluded this week that there would be an addition to our family. Seeing that a sibling for Grace and Zachary is biologically impossible at this point, we’ve opted for the next best — perhaps the best, at this juncture — thing. Yep, we’re getting a dog.
Bec had a pretty clever idea as to how to tell the kids, since my cleverness is often limited to figuring out new ways of rendering lawn and garden machinery inoperable. She bought a small toy — a tiny, rolled-up, object labeled “The Doggy News Express” and put it inside the door where our Globe usually appears in the morning. “Grace or Zach, could you please go get the paper for me?” Becca asked the kiddos Saturday morning. After retrieving the item, and a few seconds of befuddlement, Grace asked in a voice combining the qualities of a young soprano and a young mouse, “Are we getting a dog?” When we answered in the affirmative, one would have sworn it was 1964 all over again and the Beatles were stepping onto Ed Sullivan’s stage.
I had a dog when I was a kid, albeit briefly, but it had to be put to sleep for reasons I suppose I’ve blacked out. Then, for years, both my mom and dad had various cats, though it’s safe to say the cats my father had were essentially forced on him by my stepmother. While my mom’s cats were generally tranquil and more or less unobtrusive, my stepmom had one cat that was well-mannered, quiet and reserved (Eleanor) and one cat that was seemingly possessed with the spirit of Mephistopheles (Rhuburb). That (insert your curse word of choice here) cat would perch itself near the coat area, wait until my brother or I walked by, then jump out with a claw extended and an accompanying hiss that would in all probability frighten an assassin. Jeannine, our stepmother, claimed the animal had been treated cruelly by children in an earlier age, but we didn’t buy it. I always thought that if one shaved off all the fur, the numbers “666” would be located.
As for Becca, she had a dog, Lady, that she loved for many years (from elementary school and into college) before she got old and unwell. The day Lady had to be put down was a very emotional one for her, for obvious reasons. The type of relationship she had with her dog is something I honestly have nothing to compare to, so it’s safe to say we’re coming at the whole “family dog” experience from entirely different angles.
And yet … I’m honestly excited about the whole thing. Mostly, it’s because both the kids are pumped to be dog owners, especially Grace. Heck, Bec even gave Grace a homework assignment including all kinds of questions pertaining to dog ownership, and Grace looked up everything online and answered them all. If there was any doubt about getting a new pooch before that point, our daughter’s determination and dedication in demonstrating she was ready to assume at least some responsibility for it helped seal the deal.
We’re now looking for a dog that doesn’t shed, is preferably house-trained and would make a good companion for our children to grow with (Bec would like a byline for this sentence). We went to the Humane Society this past weekend in Sioux Falls and came away empty-handed, much to Grace’s chagrin, but plan to try again in Mankato and perhaps Blue Earth this coming weekend.
I’m sure there will be a blog or two in the coming weeks and months about adapting to life with a dog (Perhaps that’s another good argument for getting one; it should make for some remarkable writing material). Most of all, though, I look forward to the joy our new companion is going to give all of us — and doing all we can to ensure he doesn’t become the canine version of Rhubarb.