Many years ago, when we were young, ambitious, and with new love bursting in our hearts, we decided to test our parenting skills on something we thought we couldn’t damage as much as we might a miniature person. We went, just after the holidays, to the local pound, and we found a puppy. We fell in love, we filled out an application, and then we went home and cried our eyes out, thinking that they would never allow us to parent this tiny little puppy – we lived in an apartment, we had no parenting skills, and we were completely unworthy.
Imagine our surprise when they called us to tell us we could have the puppy! For nine long years, we parented Lucy, a German shepherd mix. We sat by her crate, tears running down our faces, the day we had her spayed, rubbing her head, giving her sips of water, regretting putting our baby through something so painful. And the night she fell through the ice on the pool, Jim ran to get her out, wrapping her in blankets, racing to the vet to have her treated – all the while forgetting he was drenched in ice cold water. When we moved to Florida, and the vet said it was not a good idea to take the aged Lucy with us, we cried all over again leaving her behind – knowing she would be loved and spoiled by Jim’s dad.
We have had dogs enter our lives over the years. Some of them have come for a short time – like Molly, our fence jumper. Living less than a mile off of a main highway, with a six foot fence surrounding our yard, the vet suggested we re-home Molly, who would go outside to pee through the back door, and then be barking to come in the front door every time. And Daisy, for whom a dog behaviorist was hired to the tune of $45 an hour. After a couple of meetings, the behaviorist told us this was a dog not meant for human companionship, and she should be removed from our home immediately before she hurt someone. And then there was Grainne, my first Irish Wolfhound, rescued after being so badly neglected that she didn’t even know what to do with a dog treat. She stayed so sick, and thousands of dollars went into surgeries to try and find out what was wrong with her, until we finally gave her to a couple who the vet recommended to us as hospice care givers.
You can see that we’ve had some bad luck in choosing dogs. I seem attracted to the insane and infirmed – yes, I am talking about animals – I think. And after having to get rid of Grainne, I always thought that I’d wait until timing was just right for another wolfhound. So two years ago, when I learned of a litter of wolfhound puppies looking for homes, at the same time that a large sum of money had just been gifted to me by my husband, who sold his gaming website, it seemed destiny. That’s when we got Roisin Dubh – Rosie.
This dog was my heart hound. I loved her to pieces, and she loved being here with the kids. We had a few early medical emergencies – including an infection on her neck that required mega doses of antibiotics, and an incident where she thought she could fly and jumped from one sofa in the living room to the other – missing the second by only about a foot, landing hard on her paw. Rosie had a personality – a bit stubborn, but totally loving.
But Granuaile was itchy. And no matter what we did, she stayed itchy. Finally, the pediatrician said it was Rosie, and while Granuaile was too young for him to recommend allergy testing, he did recommend we start removing potential allergens. Rosie was an allergen. We found a home for Rosie with a woman who owned one of Rosie’s brothers, I cried my eyes out over losing my baby, Granuaile became less itchy, and the world, believe it or not, continued to revolve.
So with the heartbreak behind me, and the decision made to NEVER EVER EVER NO MATTER HOW LONG I LIVE ON THIS EARTH NEVER allow another dog to be brought into the house, I have lived happily ignoring pleas from the children for another dog.
But the pressure is on. It’s mostly Eilis, because she is of the age to be conniving enough. She is the child who suddenly is watching dog documentaries, the Dog Whisperer, Dog Day Afternoon….Every book brought home from the school library is about dogs. Everything from Clifford the Big Red Dog to Scooby Doo – if it has four legs, fleas, and the potential to drool and shed all over my house, she’s read about it.
The two of them have been ganging up on me as of late. They play dog. Yes, that’s right, they pretend to be dogs. They come wagging their fake tails in my direction, panting and licking, barking and growling. Oh it’s cute alright, but it makes you long for the real thing.
I’ve been trying to arm myself by reading prices of veterinary care and dragging myself out at 2 AM in a cold, wet rain to remember – in addition to the allergy concerns – the reasons it’s good we don’t have a dog right now. But they do wear you down.
I’m holding my ground, but I admit to losing my grip…….