I have wanted a dog for all of my life. I had one (very briefly) when I was four, but he was hit by a car before I ever got to know him. I yearned for another pup for the next five years, begging and pleading and gradually wearing my poor mother down. I got my little “Koko” for my ninth birthday. She was the love of my life, but she was way too much trouble for a family with six kids, and we had to give her away before I was twelve.
I spent the next ten years, at least, dreaming of once again owning a dog. I wanted a dog, so much, so badly….almost as deeply as I wanted a baby, I wanted a dog.
So of course, when my first two kids were very small, and we had moved into our house way, way out in the country, I thought that it was time to finally have the doggie of my dreams. Off to the shelter the kids and I went, and home we came with Sandy, a two year old hound dog, as sweet as she could be. We welcomed her into our family with love and great hope. She was lovely, and we adored her.
Fast forward one short year, to October of 1992. My middle child, my little Matty, came down with what we thought was a cold but what turned out to be, in fact, a whopping case of allergy induced asthma. It was very scary, very upsetting and ultimately very sad. On doctor’s orders, we said good bye to Sandy and to the two cats who had been our first “babies”. We entered our petless days of parenting.
The years went by with many a trip to the allergist. We got used to weekly shots, torn out rugs, mattress and pillow covers and a whole pharmacy of inhaled and oral medications. We got used to wheezing, sneezing and constant coughs. I thought for sure that my dog owning days were behind me.
But fast forward one more time, to the fall of 2003. Our oldest child, Kate, was in her senior year of High School. The boys were past the worst parts of their allergies, and were able to manage their symptoms independently. We began to hear a rumbling from the troops: “We want a dog, we want a dog, we want a dog.” They started the campaign with me, earnestly explaining that they would handle all of the chores and care. They appealed to my poorly disguised belief that every child should have a good dog in his or her life. They gazed at me with big eyes, and angelic smiles. It wasn’t very hard, but they convinced me of the righteousness of their cause.
I remember the night that we decided to broach the subject of dog ownership to Paul. The kids made their case, describing all of the ways that they would become more responsible and more mature by owning a dog. We were at the dinner table, and Paul listened patiently, as he always does. He heard their pleas, but shook his head. “Guys,” he said to them, “Pretty soon you’ll all be gone, and it will just be me and Mom here.” All eyes turned to me, and I took a deep breath. I looked at my husband and spoke slowly: “Exactly.