|She was almost always in need of a haircut!|
We returned home and opened the door, only to be knocked in the face with the reality of a household with no dog. No tail thumping from her crate, no bursting out of her crate to snuggle you. Empty food and water bowls, and her leash hanging on the hook - that we knew we wouldn't use with her again. The next few days were spent trudging through our feelings of grief, snuggling with the kids and looking at Stella's baby pictures, talking about the funny things she did and the long walks we used to go on.
Weeks, maybe months, passed until we could begin to discard of Stella's things. But once we did, we felt like we could really start to move on - especially since we weren't saddened by seeing her belongings all the time. About a year after her death, we started to have "the new dog" discussion. As many of you know, life with a dog is very different from life without a dog. Your schedule is different, arrangements don't need to be made when you travel out of town. No vet visits or extra haircuts. So we had slid into a nice, relaxed life without having a pet to be responsible for. But it felt like something was missing. Brent and I started reading Cesar Millan's books - he's considered the dog whisperer because of his ability to rehab troubled dogs and owners. His books were so interesting that we were delighted to find episodes of his TV show, The Dog Whisperer, on our instant Netflix. The kids, Brent and I plowed through all of the available episodes, learning all about dog behavior and how to understand and train dogs.
Watching and reading all about dogs prepared our hearts and minds for a new puppy. But dogs are expensive. Along with adoption fees, there are the supplies needed, like a crate, food and toys. Plus, a puppy would need to be spayed. So we had a serious discussion with the kids. If we were all indeed ready for a dog, it would mean using our Christmas gift savings to do it. Santa would still come, of course, but we told Emma and Owen that the puppy would be our family gift, so that they shouldn't expect presents from mom and dad. Surprisingly, they were 100% on board with that plan...especially when we asked them if they could even remember one gift we got them for Christmas last year.
Emma and Owen have been getting ready as quickly as they can each morning, so as soon as the sun comes up at 7:15am, they hurry outside in their coats, gloves and hats to play fetch with Lily. They understand how important it is for her to get some exercise before she has to be in her crate for a few hours.