Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Moment in my Mother's shoes!

I remember my mom saying to me..."just you wait until you are a mom" or "when you're a mom you can do it however you want!"

Funny how now that I'm that mom, I think incredibly like my mom did back then!

This is Taffy's mom...and Taffy is in that pile of puppies somewhere!

Taffy was a puppy we got when I was 6 or 7 years old. We had moved to England the year before and lived out in the country with a huge backyard.

Of course with 4 kids under 8, I'm confident that we did the fun cuddling and playing and mom did the hard puppy work.

When they gave her back to the dog farm a year later I couldn't seem to understand but of course I wasn't the one that...

-had baby #5 two months after adding a puppy to the chaos!

-had to house train a high energy puppy while potty training a 2 year old and holding a newborn!

-had my house destroyed time and time again!

-cried after my dog ate half of a beautiful cake I had spent all day making for Valentines day!

-cleaned up throw up in the back of the station wagon every time we had to take the dog somewhere in the car! (I still remember the smell!)

-if we chose not to take Taffy with us (like on one of the three 1 hour round trips into town each day for school runs) we had to risk the evil neighbors coming and beating her to death! Seriously, these neighbors--the Mulligans--were out of a movie! They hated Taffy!

Those are just a few of the things I remember...I'm sure mom could write her own book to rival Marley & Me!

Our family was probably a bad fit right from the start--just not enough time and energy to devote to a dog with so much energy and enthusiasm. But from my little 7 year old heart, giving Taffy back was like giving up one of my siblings. I'm quite sure my vocal little self didn't hesitate to let my mom know how mean I thought she was. I'm quite certain I made many emotional and cruel accusations as I fought for Taffy to stay. I can just hear myself saying "would you get rid of me?!"

For that...I'm truly sorry mom. Your efforts to succeed with Taffy were more valiant than I can imagine! I will hold onto the hope that as my children scream bitterly at me someday...that 25 years later we'll see eye to eye and I may even get an apology!

This brings me to a confession...

I now have my own 6 year old daughter. And of course, she desperately wants a dog. She is even giving up some of her toys for our future "dog Messick."

Laugh, mom, laugh! I deserve it!

I feel the need to justify and explain the long and painful path that has led us to our current search for the perfect dog for our family....because I know what most of you are thinking!

  • I don't pretend to even begin to understand Hayley's passion for animals or her need to connect with non-human life. I thought I loved dogs as a girl but as an adult I must admit there is not one bit of attraction towards dogs left in me! As my Mom used to say "I raise children not dogs!" When a dog comes up to me I have to fight the urge to put my hand in my a dog?!?! Yuck!
  • Ryan and I have held a united front for years on this issue. We have all the reasons clearly down pat and regularly go through our arguments against and Hayley's arguments for a dog.
  • One big argument is the size of our house...someday when we get a bigger house with a bigger yard we'll think about it. But in the current housing market situation (we're stuck!) Hayley may have her own 6 year old by the time that happens!
  • The arguments coming from the 6 year old gallery have intensified in recent months. I thought they'd play out like they always have before. We'd fight the battle over and over until it eventually subsided for a while. But in the heat of one battle Ryan quietly admitted to me that he "kinda wanted a dog too." I knew from that moment that I was toast!

But I take full responsibility. I realize that this dog will fall into my care more than anyone else's so I better be on board. I started finding all the pros of having a was hard at first.

For now we'll say at the top of the list is a hope that this will fill a need for Hayley and maybe help ground her in a way that we aren't able to...if you know Hayley well, you may understand that...if not, trust me--after all, I'm the mom! I guess it's amazing what you'll do for your kids!

So for the past month we have spent countless hours pouring over breed books and learning all sorts about temperament testing. This past week we began visiting local animal shelters and today we spent several hours at adoption events. Our goal is to get a dog with a calm temperament that isn't a puppy (although those puppies are so dang cute!!!) It's a little adictive and somewhat fun but overwhelming to hand-pick our next family member.

We bore our friends constantly with our "dog talk" right now. But if you care two cents about dogs and want to know: breeds we've considered seriously but that are ruled out at this point are beagles and king charles spaniels. Our current favorite is yellow labradors (larger than we first wanted but with the right child-friendly and potential obedience qualities). We're open to advice on breed and temperament!

What do the kids think about this new pursuit?

-Hayley: has been surprisingly patient with what a long process this is. She asks regularly if "we're ever going to get a dog!" She also begs to do chores constantly to save money up for our dog. I have to be's wearing me out to have to come up with chores for her all the time but I'm glad that she's willing to work for a dog.

-Maya: just wants a "sweet" dog. To her "sweet" dogs come when you call them and don't bite. She fell in love with a little Chihuahua at the shelter and even though we told her someone else was going to get that dog she now wants to name whatever dog we get "Chihuahua" and with the cute way she says it I could almost agree.

-Alice: thinks she's in heaven getting licked by dogs. She gets so excited to go see all these dogs and isn't the least bit scared or intimidated.

Where am I in this process???

Surprisingly excited. As we meet new dogs I find myself really trying to get to know them. I even pet them for long periods of time (thankgoodness for hand sanitizer when we get back to the van!) I think dogs, imagine a dog in my life, and even dream about dogs right now. Part of me wants to hurry up and find one so I can get on with other stuff! (whatever...I'll be training and cleaning up after a dog from here on out!)

When we first started these discussions I dreaded having another body in my house all the time...but now I am actually looking forward to the potential companionship. So hopefully this is a good sign. Now if I could just stop getting emotionally attached to dogs that other people end up getting this would be so much easier. But hopefully we'll have an exciting announcement in the next month or so...


Gina said...

Whoa! I was wondering where this post was heading. I have to admit, I never thought of you guys as the "dog" type! How fun!
Amen on the beagles. They are so cute and we loved honeybabe- but she was just not smart enough to be the good dog we needed.
I've heard labs are the way to go- but remember, the bigger the dog, the bigger the poop!
Just thought I'd throw that in.
I'm still reeling a little from the shock of this announcement! :)

By the way, Taffy was A-DOR-ABLE.

Paul and Nancy Garner said...

I am just still laughing and cannot believe it!! Sorry. I am just excited that you are gonna go through all this before me so I can then get all the feedback before Abigail grows up! I want to know moms reaction to all this though! I love the pictures you posted...I guess mom and dad just really had to make room for ME! Taffy may have been cute, but I am glad they made room for me!

Well, good Luck with the search! I am glad you are getting excited about it! I thought that you would of had a dog by now after I talked to you this morning. So do you just go to the shelter until you find one then? I am actually excited for pictures...keep me posted!

Tammy said...

I loved every bit of this post! Thanks for sharing. I am excited to meet this new member of the family whenever you find the right one.

Diana said...

I have to laugh. Of all of us, I would have picked you as the last one to get a dog. But it's less incredible when I hear about how your little family has sabotaged you with their cuteness and 'doggedness'.
Happy dog hunting!

Kayelynn said...

I had no idea Taffy was a trouble-making pooch! I remember spending "hours" gazing at your family picture with Taffy in it and thinking that must have been the most wonderful dog in the world! I was so jealous! :) Good luck with the big search! It will be fun to see the dog you choose!

Anna said...

Ben and I have already agreed - no dogs or cats for us!! Even if Ben changed his mind I don't think I'd be able to show Any enthusiasm whatsoever. I don't like to stroke other people's dogs, or think they are cute for that matter, or think I could actually run a house with a dog in it - do they go to bed at 7pm like my kids?? No so no can do! Good luck with your search though! I am impressed at your cheerfulness on the subject!

Rachel said...

Good luck with the dog search!
And as long as you're looking at ones as big as labs, REALLY do consider golden retrievers... they're not quite as big, they're smart, and WONDERFUL with kids! Let me know how everything goes! :)

Rhonda said...

Even though I have always been against the idea of getting a dog for us, I think it is so fun that you guys are getting one! I know it will be so fun for your girls.

I am afraid that Ruby has a pretty big obsession with animals (especially dogs) so we might be in for some heated conversations about it in the future. Luckily Greg is SUPER allergic, so I don't think it will ever be a real possibility for us. But, I can totally see that it will be really fun for your family. Good luck with the search! Can't wait to see pictures of the lucky dog!

Anne said...

Well, I never thought of myself as a Dog person either, but we've had Princess for over a year now, and she is part of our family - the good and the bad. My requirements were this: no slobbering, no shedding, not hyper, and small.My favorite breed is the schnauzer. They are very obedient, well tempered, and best of all - they don't shed!! We waited until the shelter had a schnauzer in and then went to take a look a her. Princess is a mix breed of schnauzer and Yorkie terrier (both non-shedding breeds). I wont lie, she has been a LOT of work, and has done some damage to toys and house, but just as with kids - the love comes through the caring for them. As crazy as it can get with 4 little kids and a dog, the love and loyalty she shows in return makes it worth the effort. Give yourself 4 months of adjustment if you feel like throwing in the towel, however I think that as long as you go into this adoption with practical expectations as to the work that's ahead of you - you'll do just fine. Good luck on your search for kid #4!!!