One of the best things I’ve ever done is take a puppy away from my children. You read that right.
I had no intention of getting a dog, so I did the responsible thing and took a puppy home from a festival that the kids and I went to while my husband was out golfing. I don’t know what came over me. I saw this dog and the next thing I knew, we were driving home with him in my daughter’s arms.
It was one of the greatest moments in their lives.
By the time my husband got home, we we’re about a thousand dollars into our investment. Adoption fees, dog food, two collars, a kennel, three leashes, a basket full of toys, two plush beds, a stash of dog bowls and Mae’s ladybug pillow for our new family member, Jake. The kids proudly named him Jake, like “Jake from State Farm”, but this Jake was from Stades Farm.
My husband was shocked. My family was shocked. Everyone I knew was in shock, because for years I have said adamantly "WE ARE NOT DOG PEOPLE". The problem was, my kids wanted a dog so bad.
My husband was not on board, so I did everything I could to make it seem like this was the best decision I had ever made. I could handle it all. Jake would be my dog. I would get up through the night. I would train him. I would run home from work and let him out. I would take the brunt of my poor decision and my husband would eventually warm to him. We would all be happy. Right? Not so much.
By the fifth day, we had to have a come to Jesus moment. My stomach hurt. My stress level was through the roof. I was exhausted. Was this dog staying? Could we really take care of a puppy? Was he really a good fit for us? Were we a good fit for him? He was a lab mixed with a boxer or a pit-bull. He was going to need to run and he was going to be big. The answer was, “No. No way.” I was failing miserably. I was failing this beautiful animal.
I failed everyone.
We sat the kids down. I explained to them that because of my careless decision-making, we were in a situation that was now going to hurt everyone. I tried to use it as a life-lesson about being responsible, and doing research, and communication, but all that life-lesson bullshit just got glazed over, because who really cares when you’re about to get a puppy ripped from your arms?
My 8 year old proclaimed, while staring down at the floor, “I think whatever you think is fine.” Then he ran up to his room, slammed the door and sobbed in his bed. My 6 year old broke down in tears and said, “Can he keep his ladybug pillow I gave him?” and as we all cried, she held the puppy for the next hour and soaked him in her tears.
It was the absolute worst thing I could have done to my kids. They had been begging us for a puppy. My daughter would attach my husband’s ties to her over-stuffed dog and pretend to walk him in the yard. They drew pictures of dogs. They talked about other people’s dogs. They wanted to watch every movie that was ever made about dogs. They we’re dying for a dog; and they got one and then we took it away.
My daughter wanted to go with to give him back. We called the shelter and the woman met us that night at a BP gas station. We handed the puppy over in the rain (of course). My daughter could hardly let him go. I just kept saying, “He’ll have a better life with someone else.” It was a scene out of a bad Lifetime movie. I was the star. I was the horrible mother that played a sick twisted game on her children; now you have a puppy, now you don’t.
We cleaned out every reminder that there was ever a Jake. And that was it.
For the next two years, my daughter would draw pictures of the family with just a little black speck of a dog, and as she would explain her art, she would always point to the black speck and say, “That’s Jake.” (cue the sad music, get out the knife, stab my soul).
As time passed, I had resigned myself to the fact that my kids would never have a dog. That the only story they would have to tell is the one about the rainy night when mom and dad sat them down, ripped their puppy out of their arms, and handed him over to a strange lady at the BP.
Then I joined Facebook, another thing I swore I would never do. But apparently, if you are a writer, you can reach a lot of people on social media and that’s where people go to read content, huh, so strange. So, I begrudgingly joined and to my surprise, I love it. It’s opened new connections. It’s solidified letting others go, and most of all, it brought us to Jake. You read that right, but it’s not what you think…
I was sifting through Facebook right after Thanksgiving and there he was. Three-year-old Jake. A black and white Lhasa Apso who’s owner was getting older and wanted to travel. Jake needed a home. He was trained. He was good with kids and there he was staring at me on Facebook.
Carla Moser from doggieology101 made the post. We’ve known her for years, she’s also a teacher and our kids love for dogs stems from her influence, bringing her dogs into the classroom and educating children on caring for and loving animals. Carla is one of those people who has a soul that is deeper than the ocean. She’s a dog whisper and just a wonderful person, so naturally, if she was vouching for Jake, there had to be something special about him.
“Look at this guy.” I held the iPad up so my husband could see. He leaned in and asked, “Is he missing?”
“No, Carla posted him. He’s trained. He’s three. He’s super good with kids and his name is Jake. He’s right down the road.” I googled Lhasa Apso.
Playful, Lively, Obedient, Devoted, Fearless, Intelligent, Spirited, Alert, Assertive, Energetic, Friendly, Steady.
We read. We researched. We slept on it. We talked the next day. This dog could be the right fit. He was the right age. He wasn’t too big. He didn’t need to run every day. We decided we would take the whole family over to meet Jake.
This time I was doing it the right way.
We made arrangements with the owner, and the only caveat of our meeting was that if we liked him, we would take him on the spot, because he didn’t want to prolong an already difficult decision. If we didn’t like him, no hurt feelings.
We told the kids about the dog. That his name was Jake, and that just because we were going to meet him, it didn’t mean we were going to take him home with us. We talked about Lhasa Apso’s. We explained that we all had to be onboard and if Jake was coming home with us, he would stay forever. It wouldn’t be like Jake from Stades Farm. The most heartbreaking thing is that even though we said this, my kids doubted it. They had been hurt so bad, they didn’t want to allow any more space in their hearts for even the possibility of a dog.
As we drove to meet Jake (just two miles down the road), a million questions poured out from the backseat.
“Does he bite?”
“Why doesn’t the guy want him?”
“Does Miss Moser think we should have him?”
“If he’s nice, do we just take him right out of the guy’s house?”
"Do you think he'll like us?"
Before we opened the door, my daughter squeezed my hand and stared up at me, pleading, hoping; “I want him, mommy.”
“I know you do. We all do, but we have to make sure we’re right for him and he’s right for us.”
And that was it. We took him home. He’s ours.
I always thought we should get a dog because the kids needed something to take care of, some responsibility. They needed to bond with an animal. They needed a pal. I was so wrong, again. Because we all needed him. He’s the greatest gift we’ve been given. He’s the most wonderful, beautiful, loving, caring, sweet, amazing dog on Earth. I know everyone says this (and I fully understand now) but, our dog Jake is like a real person. I swear he knows what I’m talking about. He knows when someone is sick. He knows how to cheer people up. He’s a social butterfly and he also has his quirks…
He’s the worst ball handler in the world.
He’s afraid of his own shadow.
He thinks the dining room is the perfect place to take a crap.
He comes when he feels like it.
If you are a human, he has to say “hi”.
If you are a dog, he’s not so sure.
If you have cheese, look out.
And sometimes he likes to eat his poo.
He makes us laugh so hard. And if we go anywhere, he has to come with. He hates car rides, but if he’s laying across my husband’s arm he’s fine. We’re researching totes to take him biking with us. He has fancy coats for winter walks and his doggie Ewok costume is already ordered for Halloween. Yes, we’ve become those people. When he comes back from the groomer I take a thousand pictures. When we had to leave him with friends for a week, we cried pulling out of their driveway.
We love Jake.
My son kneels down every morning and has his own little chat with Jake. My daughter shows him off to everyone we meet. My husband buys him things every time he goes to the store, which is often.
And when we're all sitting around and Jake jumps up on my lap to snuggle in. I know the best thing I ever did was take that puppy away. He wasn’t the right Jake.
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