Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mommy, Can I Have a Dog?

For my first official blog, this is a repeat of a story I wrote when my now 14-year old asked for a dog at the age of six.  Although I don't write about it in this first blog, our dog sadly, passed away soon after she entered our life.  I'll write about what happened after she passed in my next blog!

“Mommy, can I have a dog?” 

And so it began. The official start of my 6-year old daughter’s quest for a canine companion. 

Unaware that her seemingly logical attempts to convince me to say yes have been used by thousands of children before her, Melissa tried to appeal to my sense of fairness.

“Mommy, I’ll take care of her, I’ll give her a bath, I’ll feed her, I’ll walk her, I promise,” she proclaimed with confidence.

“Even at 6:00 in the morning in the middle of January when it’s freezing cold outside?” I asked.

“Uh huh”

“Maybe when you’re older,” piped in my husband Bob.

“BUT Daaadddddyyyy, I want a dog now!”

Alas, she is guided by love, not logic, which is not inherently a bad thing.  Sometime I wish that logic did not occupy such a prominent part of my brain, but in this case, my head, not my heart, took hold of the reins.  The reasons for not getting a dog were endless.  Our townhouse was small.  Our cat, who has had a sure and steady rule over the family for nearly 12 years, would certainly not welcome an intruder.  My husband and I both work. We have no yard for the dog to roam free and, contrary to my little girl’s solemn promise to walk the pup at sunrise on winter mornings, I knew full well that the person taking those frigid strolls would be me.

Melissa’s constant begging for a dog eventually subsided, but never entirely went away.  Every few weeks or so, particularly after seeing one of those heart-wrenching “Boy finds dog-boy loses dog, boy finds dog again and lives happily ever after” movies, the pleading would begin anew

“Mommy, I don’t want to wait until I’m 13, I want a dog NOW!”

Repeat anti-dog rationale stated above.

She forgot about the dog during the holidays, which was good since the bombardment of gifts from relatives across the country left little room for anything else in our tiny house.  She forgot about the dog during the month of January, as the winter weather drove her outdoors, immune to the cold, to frolic in the first snow of the season.  She forgot about the dog until that fateful day in February, when my husband and I somehow had to find a way to tell our little girl that we were going to move far away from her school, her friends, her Brownie Troop and all that has been familiar to her.

I picked her up from school that day and drove her home, dreading the moment that she would notice the “For Sale” sign in the bedroom window.  That moment came immediately.

“What’s that sign mommy?”

Before I could answer she wandered into the house, up the stairs and into my husband’s home-office where he scooped her up with his big, strong daddy arms.

“Melissa,” he said.  “When we move, we are going to get you a dog.”

My eyes widened.  My mouth dropped.  I glared at him in silence and thought, how about discussing this with me?!  No luck.  She jumped off his lap with glee and started thinking up names for her future pet.  There was no turning back

Fast forward 6 months.  Finally, after many real estate pitfalls that I’ll save for a future column, we are in our dream home.  “Emily”, lovingly named by the animal shelter workers who cared for her, sits at my feet, happy as can be.  A Rottweiler/Shepard mix (or so they suspect), our new dog had lived for three months at the shelter.  It only took two days for Emily to feel comfortable in her new home.  She’s crazy about us, and the feeling is mutual.  We wonder about her life prior to wandering the streets as a stray.  Her pleasant demeanor and ability to let us know when she has to “go” leads us to believe that her former owner trained her well.  Sadly, our vet tells us the new addition to our family may be further along in her life than originally thought. 

Now, I too, am guided by love.  Giving her back is not an option, she is already a part of our family.  Bob and I decide that Melissa need not know that her dog is old.  “We’ll enjoy her as long as we have her,” said Bob as we watched Melissa play with Emily is the comfortable confines of our large, fenced in back yard.

The two of them run over to us, both out of breath from their fun.  “Mommy,” says Melissa with a smile on her face, “ I love Emily, I want to keep her forever.”

“Me too, Melissa,” I said. “Me too.”
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), millions of dogs and cats are destroyed annually in shelters across the country because there are no homes for them and many of these animals are pure breeds. If you would like to adopt from a shelter and save a life, log on to, the ASPCA's online partner.  Their database website accesses approximately 60,000 animals at 5,528 shelters and rescue groups that are available for adoption throughout the United States. You can search this site by breed, sex, age, gender and location.  Petfinder will provide you with a photo and bio on each pet waiting for adoption.


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