Dogs, man. They’re great.
I’ve always been a dog person. It’s actually one of my better qualities. Quite honestly, at the risk of sounding like one of those stupid tshirts you see on Instagram, I really do think there are two kinds of people in this world: dog people and wrong people. Don’t get mixed up with wrong people, they probably prefer How I Met Your Mother over Friends and say “dinner” instead of “supper”. Yikes. Gotta watch out for them.
Back to dogs. I have a personal theory that millennials like myself (no brag), who were assigned to read “Where the Red Fern Grows” in high school English class hold dogs at a higher regard than maybe anyone else. First of all, it’s never fun being assigned a reading lesson, but that’s life, right? But this one feels different! It’s about dogs, so it must be good. We start reading a few pages and BAM, we’re hooked. It’s a light-hearted read about a boy and his pups, this is great, wholesome, even. We can get into this, no biggie and OHMYGOD. What? Why? Those poor dogs were put through the ringer and that boy? He saw some shit to say the very least. When we finally put that book down and wiped our tears, we were left with some light trauma and a newfound respect for our own little ankle biters. We often wondered, if ever put in the situation, would our own pets risk their furry little lives for us? Probably not, but maybe. Dogs, man. They’re great!
If you’ve stuck with me this far, you may be wondering to yourself, “is she really just going to go on and on about dogs?”, and the answer is yes, yes I am. Something has been pulling at my heart lately, and that is the memory of my sweet pup, Lulu. So, I think I need to tell you about her and what she meant to me. So, this is a story about a dog.
The year was 2017…just kidding I’m not going to be that dramatic. But, really, it was 2017 and my husband, Geoff and I had finally decided after a few years of marriage, and many boozy weekends full of late nights and random plans, we were going to start a family. For so long it had just been the two of us, and our good boy, Bash. One morning, with shaking hands covered in my own urine, holding a stick made of plastic, I excitedly gave Geoff the news, we were pregnant. We were thrilled, we were going to be parents, and there was SO much to look forward to. And then as quickly as our excitement came, sadness knocked on the door and let itself in to settle deep in our bones. Fate had other plans, and our hearts were broken. It’s a helpless feeling, and I’m sure many of you reading this are familiar with it.
To distract myself, I put my energy into work and ran the occasional online “dog search” at the local shelters in the area…ya know, just to browse. During one of these harmless browsing sessions, one little white dog named Lily caught my attention. She looked familiar to me. First, because she was another Clumber Spaniel, just like Bash, and second because I had seen her a few different times in the months prior and even filled out a form to meet her, but had heard nothing. Apparently, this little dog didn’t always have the best attitude and had found herself in and out of several homes over the past months and was back at the shelter. Seeing her this time felt different for some reason, and I immediately scheduled a time to go meet her. And meet her I did. She cowered in her cage, her white fur stained from not letting anyone get close enough to give her the attention she needed. She had an unsure look in her eye and immediately growled at my husband. I was sold. She was going to be mine. After a successful meeting with Bash, Lulu got to come home to her forever home. As they handed over her leash, the people at the shelter warned me several times that she didn’t have a great attitude, didn’t love men, would occasionally growl and informed me the reason for being sent back to the shelter from ONE of the several homes was for an attempted bite. GREAT.
But, this dog and I, for whatever reason, I’ll call it fate, bonded immediately. She loved me and I loved her. I really believe we were meant to meet. Every minute she could spend close to me, she would. She couldn’t ever quite get close enough to me, it seemed. She’d nuzzle in and nestle into me, almost like she was trying to find that sad feeling that was buried deep and pull it out of me. Again with the drama, I know, but it was true. She’d get SO excited when I’d come home from work, that she’d drop her ass wherever she was and pee out of pure joy. I quickly learned that using sweet baby talk with her upon entering the house only made this worse, so I had to resort to a monotone “oh, hello”, like how two men during a business deal would greet one another.
Never in her short life had she gotten the kind of attention she received at our house. She had a playmate and companion in Bash, someone to truly love her and give her time and patience in me, and someone to growl at for absolutely no reason in my husband. I loved every side of her and was so happy to be able to give her the warm bed, the treats and the attention she (and every dog) deserved.
A few months later, we were pregnant again. This time, with our sweet boy, Hayes. I think she knew it even before I did. Instead of me trying to calm her nerves like I had been doing for months, she stepped in and helped calm mine. She distracted me and helped me focus on the good. She was becoming more gentle and more curious as my body grew. The night before we left to meet our precious boy, I sat her and Bash both in my lap and told them what good dogs they were. I thanked Lulu especially for healing something inside of me and distracting me from the hurt I had felt before I met her. She had helped me in so many ways and I felt lucky to have been given the chance to help her, too.
She was skeptical to say the least when we brought Hayes home, but warmed up quickly. She let him crawl and poke and pick when he started to get older, and bless her heart, only lost her patience with him a couple times. On walks, she’d act protective of him. I don’t know how many little kids that pup almost took out, but thankfully, my reflexes were still pretty quick at that time, and no children were harmed.
A day before Hayes’ first birthday, we found out we were pregnant again. Again, nerves entered, but I felt more confident this time. I didn’t know how we were going to raise two babies and two dogs in our home, but I knew we would figure it out. We were a big team and we were just about to add another teammate.
A week before our second baby, Cash, was born, something was different in Lulu. She was still happy, but had slowed down, and I could tell she just didn’t feel good. We took her in and our vet just wasn’t sure what was going on. Determined to find an answer, we took her to another vet, and again, nobody was really quite sure. I was days from bringing home my second baby, but all I could think about was this dog who was so important to me. We had her admitted and I’d spend my lunch hours going to see her. I held her and kissed her and told her I needed her to come home, but something in her eyes told me to prepare myself. A couple more days and still there was no improvement, and it was time to make the hardest decision my husband and I have ever had to make. The day before we said “hello” to our newest member of our family, we were going to have to say “goodbye” to another member. The timing felt lazy, like whoever had written this into the plan didn’t really think it through and I was so angry. I spent some time with her that day, and again, she nestled in so close to me. I swear I felt her tell me it was okay. The job she had come to do was over and it was okay that I let her go.
Saying goodbye to her reminded me of the sadness I felt in months prior to meeting her, but something was different this time. The sadness had a sense of peace with it. She was gone, but I still felt her, almost as if she was just on the other side of an invisible curtain. Some days, I still feel her and I’m reminded of how great she was. I may have taught her how to “sit”, “roll over” and “don’t pee on the carpet, please, please, please”, but that little shelter dog taught me patience, calmness and unconditional love. She prepared me to be a mother. And I’ll forever be grateful for that.
Dogs, man. They’re great.