Over the past month, I’ve heard, “Wait, you got a dog??” many times. It’s not shocking. I’ve definitely told almost everyone I know that I didn’t want a dog, that dogs seem harder than kids, that I can’t stand barking or dog smells. That my son and I are allergic to dogs. I mean, the logic kind of piles up against me.
Then I was driving home from my mom’s and a little white dog ran into the road and I pulled over to rescue her from the street. I called the numbers on her tag and no one picked up, so I drove her home. She sat on my son’s lap the whole time, and he petted her gently and loved on her and my heart crumbled. When we gave the dog back to the grateful owner less than an hour later, both boys sobbed.
I started dicking around on Petfinder and asked everyone to talk me out of getting a dog.
Then I interviewed Yvette Nicole Brown of Community for work. Unrelated, right? Wrong. She works on Pound Puppies (the show) and was promoting shelter adoptions and talked about how she was planning on adopting a small dog and my heart continued to crumble.
I dicked around on Petfinder some more and asked my husband if we could have a dog and he said, “LOL no.”
I knew what I wanted in an imaginary dog: Small breed, limited shedding, shelter adoption, somewhere between six months and a year old.
Our local SPCA has a great website that updates frequently, and one day I saw a little poodle mix named Ace and decided screw it, I’m going to go visit this puppy. Just to get a feel for a dog and see how my kids really act around one. I hauled them 40 minutes to the shelter and we got there and it was loud and smelly and pretty awesome and staffed great and I immediately thought yeah, this is a huge mistake. They told us that Ace the poodle was already being adopted and I asked if we could look at puppies anyway, since we’d made the long drive.
In the loud puppy room, Chipmunk freaked out. Too much noise, too much stimulation. Again, me thinking this was a horrible idea all around.
Then I glanced over and saw The Dog. I’m not a big love at first sight person, but I felt an immediate connection with this Toto-looking scruffy little mutt in the last cage. “Can we see him?” I asked. He wasn’t supposed to come out because he’d just been neutered the day before, but the volunteer took pity on me and the kids and let us visit the dog in a little fenced in area beside the puppy kennel.
He was so sweet. And subdued. And gentle. He crawled into Moose’s lap and licked his face and ears, and Chipmunk was like, “eh,” and went to throw rocks, which I expected. I loved the dog. I wanted the dog. The dog wanted us.
The volunteer asked how serious I was about all this and I told her my criteria and that my husband and I grew up with dogs, but had never been dog owners, and she advised us to come back in the morning. I figured this was a good idea, because I definitely needed to sleep on things, call my husband, and bring my mom to the shelter to see the dog. She’s basically the dog whisperer and has a great read on temperaments. Plus, I wanted to meet the dog without the influence of anesthesia.
I called my mom on the way home and told her about the dog, and she agreed to come with us in the morning. I called my husband and told him about the dog and he said he didn’t mind us having one as long as I was going to be responsible for it. I told him I’m used to being responsible for everything. [insert some sort of sick burn gif]
It wasn’t until before bed that I realized I’d never learned the dog’s name. I looked it up on the website. Larry. Of course it was Larry.
When we arrived back at the shelter at 10:15 am, just after they’d opened, Larry already had an adoption pending. I wanted to cry. We visited him anyway and he was more lively, but still very chill for a small dog. He was six months old and some kind of Yorkie/Terrier mix and he was awesome. My mom’s expert opinion was “get him!”
I decided to let fate take the wheel and put an adoption paperwork in on him. They said they had to process and call the first applicants first and I asked if we could just wait around, since the drive was so long. We went to Publix and bought lunch and snacks for the farm animals back at the shelter and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours to see if the first adoption people went through with it or not. I figured if it was meant to be, we’d get him.
Some time in the early afternoon, they called my cell and said that Larry was mine if I wanted him.
The adoption fee included a crate, a leash, a collar and a bowl. And Larry. They brought him to the front office while the kids waited at the front door, freaking out and arguing about his new name. Larry sat on my lap on the way home, curled up and content and well-behaved in the car.
I wish I could tell you that we had a realistic, difficult transition into dog ownership, but this dog was meant to be part of our family. (And the universe took it easy on me.) He had one night of whining in his crate and took to being crated like a champ after that. He still has accidents but not often if you keep an eye on him. He loves the back yard. He loves the kids. He loves the leash. (He does pee in his crate at night despite having very little room too, so I’m actively trying to figure out how to work on that habit.) He was great getting his nails filed and he loves other dogs.
I was making dinner that first night and decided to name him Oliver. Chipmunk supplied the middle name Buttowski.
My husband got home and immediately took to him. (Phew.)
I work at home alone all day and he’s been incredibly uplifting to have around. He sits on my lap and goofs around and wants to play fetch. He gets me to spend time in my backyard (which is huge and fenced in and great for dogs). He has me going on walks. He’s really stress relieving. He’s everything I’ve always heard people say about dogs, but I never understood it until a little dog made our family complete.
And that’s not the best part. The best part is Chipmunk, who has always been afraid of dogs.
You guys, you would not believe how this child has taken to Ollie. He hand feeds him kibbles. He baby-talks to him and pets him and snuggles with him. He wants to say goodnight and good morning. He’s affectionate and caring and it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. I know that some dogs are trained to be autism companions and I can see why dogs are a good fit. Chipmunk’s autism is not severe, but it’s still incredible to see how his relationship with Ollie has brought out a side of him he’s never expressed before.
Moose also loves the dog, but at almost four, he’s still not super keen on being gentle. He also experienced a jealousy-related regression and started peeing all over the house. I’ve actually had more Moose-related issues than Ollie-related issues since getting Ollie.
As far as the allergies go, we’re being really pro-active. Chipmunk is over a year into his allergy shots. The dog isn’t allowed in any bedrooms or on furniture. I wash him every other day and clean his paws carefully when he comes in from outside. So far so good. A month in we haven’t seen any increase of allergy symptoms in me or Chipmunk. (And that’s with him off daily Claritin.)
So. We have a dog. I’m 100% happy and secure in the decision, despite it being kind of a rushed, crazy process. Our family feels complete now, and every single day I have a moment where I’m like holy crap, I’m so happy we adopted a dog.