Getting a new puppy has to be one of the most exciting experiences in life. I think I put it fourth, right after falling in love, getting married, and having children. Getting a puppy doesn't have the gravitas of those top three life experiences, but it's not without its own ups and downs, as I found last year when we adopted Pippa.
About a year after our Boston Terrier, Max, died, I was looking on the internet to see if there were any Boston Terriers that were up for adoption. It was Thursday afternoon, and I told myself that I was just looking, as I had been off and on for a few months, taking a little break from work. I knew we shouldn't get a dog; I knew how much work it is, how much time it takes, and how much money. Then I saw it -- an add for a litter Boston Terrier and Chihuahua mix puppies. The puppies would be eight weeks old and ready to adopt in a week. I emailed the shelter right away and filled out an application. I felt excited, nervous and guilty. Would my husband, "C", agree? Was it the right thing to do? I lay awake that night, planning out walks and crates and housebreaking routines, trying, in turns, to talk myself into it and out of it.
The next day I called my sister, H, but she wasn't home, so I called my other sister, K. K has four kids and two dogs. "Don't do it!" K said. "A puppy is so much work." I called H again. H has three kids, and at that time had one cat, one dog, and two guinea pigs. "Bring it on, I say!" said H. "You can do it all." That's what I wanted to hear. I can do it all, I thought, filled with excitement.
Later, after talking it over with C, I came to my senses again. I was disappointed, but he was right: it would be too much work; we didn't have enough time as it was; we were both working and the boys were little; it wouldn't be fair to the dog. A week went by, and I assumed the puppies must have been taken. I found time to think about other things. Then, on Saturday morning, the woman from the shelter called and said the puppies were ready to be picked up. My heart jumped, but I told her I had changed my mind, I couldn't take a puppy. She suggested I take two, then they would have each other, but I was firm and said no.
The obsession was back, though, and I kept turning the thoughts over and over in my mind. The Boston Terrier mix puppy was still there, in need of a home, within arm's reach! The little girl in me pleaded, "I want a puppy!"
I went out to lunch with two friends as I had planned, still obsessing over the thought of a puppy. I asked them what I should do. Michelle said she wouldn't get a dog, it was too much to handle on top of everything else; Emma said she couldn't imagine life without a dog.
Finally, I rebelled (against myself; inside my head). Out of every two people I asked, one said I shouldn't get a dog, and one said I should. What about what I think? I asked myself. A dog had always been part of our family, part of our home. Walking the dog was my exercise. Reading about them and training them were my hobbies. Was I split in half, between work and taking care of kids, with nothing left over of myself just for me? I went home and pleaded my case to C (thank you law school training). Being my best friend, he listened and finally agreed. If it was important to me and I was willing to do everything it took, then I (we) should get the puppy.
My stomach was in knots and my hands were sweating as I called the shelter. They had three puppies left! If I wanted to pick one up that day, though, I had to hurry. It was two o'clock, and it would be over an hour's drive. I was so happy, I couldn't stop smiling, and I felt like I could have run the 70 miles to the shelter. I gathered everything I needed, got in the car, and we were off. I was ecstatic. And on top of everything, I was able to take T1, four years old at the time, and share the fun with him.
As expected, there were to be tough times ahead, but for a few days there, this little puppy brought pure happiness to our house.