The answer has always been no.
It’s not because I'm anti-puppy or anything, in fact I have always loved the idea of having a pet. I just didn’t think we had the time to commit to a puppy. “Dogs are a lot of work” I would scold every time the subject was brought up.
Then I heard a story of a dog following his toddler into the forest and laying on top of him all night to keep him warm while a search party scanned the woods and my heart melted. I imagined my own kids in trouble some day and their companion coming to the rescue. I could see my son walking side by side with his buddy. I imagined my daughter, cozy on the couch with her puppy friend curled up beside her. I started to focus on all the wonderful ways a dog might make our lives a little brighter instead of worrying, as I'm known to do, about how hard it might be.
Normally I am someone who thinks things through for a very long time before actually committing. When it comes to Duke, there was no thinking. Two days after I saw him, he came to his forever home and life hasn’t been the same since.
This tiny little bundle of fur has pushed my buttons. Like when he sauntered through the house squatting in the corner for a poop mere moments after coming in from his evening walk. Or when we sat down at the table for a nice Sunday dinner and only to be interrupted by the sound of our dining room table being eaten and looked down to find a chunk of wood missing. Or the time I stepped right in a puddle of pee at the bottom of the stairs.
“Duuuukeeeyyy” I would often whine in those early days, wondering if maybe we were in over our heads.
He sneakily slipped into our family and made himself right at home and he fell into our routine like a well-oiled wheel.
My heart smiles in the early morning light as my son bends down to attach his leash, whispering good mornings and heads outside in his jammies taking Duke for his morning walk.
I can’t help but laugh when my daughter’s giggles echo through the house while Duke covers her in kisses as she lays on the floor playing.
Every evening when I finally find time to plop my exhausted body on the couch, Duke saunters over and stares up at me until I pick him up and cuddle him beside me. He will spends the evening crawling back and forth between myself and my husband looking for cuddles and snacks and more cuddles.
Somewhere in these past six months, in the blur of the mundaneness of everyday life, our family grew by one sweet, soft, cuddly little puppy.
He has made us all smile a little more and worry a little less. He’s brought us laughter and tears and has eased our anxious souls.
Tonight our little Duke got sick. My son, displaying his always calm, quiet strength, held him tightly on his lap as we rushed to the Vet where he will spend the night. My daughter burst into tears when we walked back through the door without her Dukey; her little body melting into mine as I assured her the Vet would take care of him.
While Duke has taught my kids about responsibility and shown them what it’s like to care for something, what has surprised me the most is that he’s showing them that the world doesn’t revolve around them. Sometimes we have to drop everything when those we love need us.
I keep looking to my feet expecting his big brown eyes to plead with me to pick him up and give his tummy a tickle. I am missing his warm little body cuddling up by my side. I am trying to distract myself but I can’t help but wonder if he’s ok. Is he lonely or scared? Does he miss us? I wonder if he’s feeling better or getting worse. I should be going to bed as we speak but the worry is preventing my mind from resting.
As my husband hangs up the phone after receiving reassurance from Dr. Shanna that our Duke is on the mend, I realize our little puppy has solidified his place in our family and our home feels awful empty without him, even if it’s just for one night.
The answer was always no.
Until one day the answer was yes and this one tiny 10 pound creature filled our home and our hearts with so much joy and I will never look back.
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