We had to put our previous dog to sleep when the kids were young. He was a bassett/beagle mix (quite a conversation starter in the park) who had lost his hearing, most of his eyesight and had arthritis in his back legs. The kids cried and begged us not to let him go, but he was more than ready to move on beyond his misery.
A few months went by and we began to look for another dog. I would go to the shelters and be overwhelmed. All those big dogs barking at me felt like indigent beggars rattling their metal cups against the railings for a little porridge.
We heard about a dog adoption at Petsmart and loaded the kids in the car and went. The kid part turned out to be not so well thought out. They fell in love with all the dogs, especially the puppies, which is how we ended up with Henry. A retriever/sheltie mix we were told that would end up to be about 40#.
Three kids and a puppy is a recipe for insanity. The dog loved the kids and would cry and cry by the door as he watched them play down the street. If the door wasn't closed all the way he'd bolt down after them and the whole neighborhood would give chase until they got tired and it was just me running and cussing at that damn dog.
He ate every pair of flip flops that were by the front door. It was to my benefit that those are so cheap because I ended up buying every kid who came in to play in the basement a new pair. He ate unattended chicken off the table or counter and whether it was cooked or not made no difference to him.
And all along he grew. And grew. And grew.
The 40# dog I was told I was getting was actually a retriever/chow mix that finally stopped growing at 85#. I'd been duped and I looked at him with disdain.
You are making my life miserable you hairy beast.
He kept watch over the front door like he was a Brink's security guard and would lunge at it when the mailman or UPS guy came up the steps. It would take years to break that habit. One of the kids in the neighborhood walked in the door unannounced to get some water and Henry bit him in the stomach. The kid freaked, I freaked, the dog chalked it up to a community service project. I was sure we would be getting sued, but the parents were dog owners and instead of yelling at me yelled at their kid for going into somebody's house without knocking.
Henry's approval ratings had slipped into the negative.
With Maggie and Nathan close by now we walk him to their house when we're having people over, for he has never earned our trust around strangers. It is a long, slow walk. He is old now and like his predecessor is getting close to moving on. He falls all the time, it hurts for him to get up, the steps to the backyard are getting too hard to go up and down, it is nearly impossible to get him in the car to go to the vet.
After the lab party we had here, Mark and I walked the few blocks to the kids' house to pick up our dog. It was a beautiful spring night and Henry was in their backyard. When we walked up the driveway every dog in the neighborhood started barking like crazy.
We let ourselves in the back gate and there was Henry. His ears were perked up listening but he didn't get up and he didn't make a sound. For the first time in thirteen years I finally had a crush on my big, hairy dog.
He and I are growing old together and are finally on the same page.....................having figured out that most things in life are rarely worthy of barking.