As a kid I had this reoccurring dream. It was Christmas morning and I had opened all my presents but one. When I unwrapped the last gift, out popped an adorable little cocker spaniel puppy exactly like "Lady" from Lady and the Tramp. I hugged and kissed the puppy, as she licked my face and jumped excitedly into my lap.
Waking up was of course a huge letdown as I realized there wasn't any puppy. There never would be. Growing up Kelly and I wanted pets more than anything, but we knew that wasn't an option because Mom was allergic to dogs and cats. So, we had quite a menagerie of strange pets: lizards, fish, love birds, turtles, hermit crabs, and bunnies, which we discovered later also bothered my mom's allergies. Unfortunately none of these pets lasted longer than a year, though we got pretty attached to each one. We were just as happy with our nontraditional pets, though we still envied our friends and cousins with dogs and cats.
As I got older, I just assumed I would never have animals. I guess I really didn't give it much thought. Never growing up with pets, I didn't really know what I was missing I guess. Then came a husband who grew up with dogs and two kids who, especially recently, became completely infatuated with animals---specifically dogs. Every time we saw dogs, Julie and Johnny would go absolutely bonkers...shrieking in delight, squishing little doggy faces and talking in baby voices. Their reactions were so completely happy and cute, albeit a tad annoying.
Scott and I first started seriously talking about getting a dog a few months after we moved to Chicago. Our house was big enough. Our yard was adequate. Everyone in our neighborhood has dogs. And, the kids absolutely were begging for a pet.
I, of course, was the one resisting. I didn't want the responsibility. I didn't know how to take care of a "real" pet. I liked our freedom to travel. We always used to roll our eyes at our friends who would have to cut their nights short to let the dog out. I just didn't want to deal with all that. Then, there was the problem of my mom's allergies. She and my dad visit a lot and we didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable. There were a whole list of reasons to say no.
But, then there was an entirely other realm of reasons to say yes. There's the fact that animals teach responsibility, patience and empathy. Caring for another living thing isn't easy. What a confidence booster to put some of that responsibility in the hands of little kids. Then, of course, there's just the fun of sharing life with a furry family member. There's walks and picnics. Camping trips and dog beaches. Above all else is the pure joy. The way Julie and Johnny light up in excitement and love around animals is unrivaled by very few things. Scott and I both knew how happy it would make them.
So, I caved and we got our first puppy. Kelly found the puppy for us, raised him and loved him for two months. Then, she handed him over to us last weekend in Deep Creek. Poor Kelly was heartbroken to give up her little furry baby.
But, just look at the pure glee in this picture. Makes it all worth it.