It wasn’t my idea… at first.
My children begged for a dog for YEARS. We tried to satiate their desire by caring for the class pet bearded dragon, turtle-sitting for the cousins, regularly fed and exercised the neighbor’s dog, and visited a LOT of pet shops. Still, they persisted.
Then I half-heartedly said something that changed everything:
“Kids, if you want a dog, you better start praying for one.”
And they did. Every day for a year and a half. These kids were pooling their piggy-banks to save up and brainstorming chores to earn income. They presented business plans with money-making ideas and their creativity, drive, and passion was… well, contagious. Before long, I was perusing the internet, pining away over those furry little canines I had tried so hard to avoid.
6 months later we became the proud owners of a 6-year-old Boxer named Bailey. This is how it happened…
My sister, a self-proclaimed “puppy-enabler,” had been sending links to dogs for months. After finishing a text to the breeder of their puppy, she added, “Do you have any good – maybe a little bit older – family dogs for my sister?”
I don’t know who was more excited – the breeder for finding a love-filled landing spot for one of her most beloved pooch, or my kids when they opened up a steady stream of dog-oriented items that Christmas morning – the last being a photo and dog tag with our name and number engraved on the back. The ear-piercing screams were worth enduring as my husband and I soaked in the joy of the moment, when their dreams and prayers finally came true. We picked her up that very next day.
And that is how Bailey became our 7th family member. Our brindle-coated beauty is a former show dog champion. After her show dog career was over, she had three litters of puppies that found homes with families all over the Midwest. She’s well-trained, has an endearing personality, and the softest fur you’ve ever felt. She NEVER lacks for love and attention and has the most incredible array of expressions on that droopy-jowled face of hers.
She’s very comfortable and happy here in her “retirement home,” as the breeder calls it. She naps on her mountain of pillows, shows off her speed for her humans at the nearby dog-park, and tries desperately to convince me that every trip to the kitchen is snack-time! We talk about how we “lucked out” with our canine cutie, but I think that’s how all dog owners feel when they open their home and heart to a fur-baby. It’s almost like we were made for each other – a perfect match.
Is life with a dog easy? Not always. When she doesn’t get table food in her bowl, she throws food all around the room in a tantrum. She gets into the garbage when we leave without her. And we found out the hard way that she’s most likely lactose intolerant. (Don’t ask.)
We also have to give her thrice daily eye drops since she doesn’t produce tears anymore and wipe her eyes pretty consistently throughout the day. But as a whole family of care-takers, I think it has re-enforced the lesson to be attentive and alert to the needs of others – pets and people alike. And as with everything, when there is love involved, a once annoying chore changes into a gesture of love instead.
Pets are magical creatures. Do I recommend them? Yes. I absolutely do. We feel like we’re living the dream because Bailey gives to our family WAY more than she takes, and certainly in ways I never expected. She brings out the gentleness in us all, gives me peace of mind when I leave the house without the kids for an errand, and is good, clean fun for the whole family.
But the most unexpected gift she gave us is emotional support. She allows us space to process our mangled or stuffed emotions by simply stroking her velvety ears, holding her strong paws, and nuzzling our faces in her silky, warm middle. She gives us only love – not judgement, not pat answers. From my teenager on down to my kindergartner (and let’s not forget the adults), this pooch has changed us and taught us how to love each other better, too.
Bailey-Boo, we love you. Thank you for making our crazy family complete!