Saturday, January 11, 2014

Dog People

Grace and Scuffy
Before we were kid people we were dog people.

First we had Spud, then Jezebel, Maggie, Ezekiel, Tabitha, Oodle, Ruthie, and Skipper.  All but Spud were poodles.  Yes, we were poodle people.  Well, Brian was a poodle person.  I was quite frankly disinterested in having pets when we were first married. But Brian's family had always had dogs, mostly poodles, and he wanted dogs, too.

So for 20 years we had poodles, usually three at a time.  A couple of them died  young of illness, most died of old age. Skipper left our home just before we brought home Katriel and Louise.  He was a solo dog at that point, all the others had died, and he was very lonely.  He was also definitely not a big fan of our kids. As we prepared to travel to Congo for the girl's adoption we knew that Skipper was not going to be any happier with six kids in our house than he was with four.  Plus, Brian's parents and sister were going to be staying with our other kids when we traveled to Congo and the task of caring for an additional furry little person while we were gone seemed an undue burden.  So Skipper went to live with our dear friend Lea. She too had a dog that had lost a companion and Skipper has turned out to be a great addition to Lea's doggy family.

So, some of you recently saw me post on Facebook about guinea pigs.  You gave me lots of great advice. Grace has been dying for a pet of her own.  Thankfully, she had stopped nagging me for another baby, but had moved on to nagging for a pet. Initially, she had it in her head that she wanted a hamster.  Although they are cute and small and basically like having furry fish in a tank, we had a problem with mice this summer and it just creeped me out a bit. (By the way, we had already tried our hand at a pet fish.  We all found the fish to be very boring!)

So we gave some thought to guinea pigs.  They seemed sort of dog-like to me from the research I had done. I read that they liked to play and sort of made a barking noise when they were excited to see you. But it turns out that they are not good for allergy sufferers.  Brian is super allergic to cats, so guinea pigs were out.

At this point Grace, being the planner that she is, had already picked out the cage, the toys, and the color of guinea pig that she was going to get.  Uh oh.  So on to Plan C.  A new dog.  We thought for about asking Lea if we could have Skipper back, but saw we him a few weeks ago and he clearly is part of her family now. Plus, Grace, wanted her own pet!  

I started searching the online animal rescue websites and came across an organization that specializes in poodles.  Perfect!!! So we slogged the whole family down to the shelter on the coldest day of the year so far and Grace picked out the ugliest dog at the shelter.  OK, maybe not THE ugliest.  He is a poodle/bichon mix.  His name is Scuffy.  She won't change it.

By this point Haven had caught the pet owner bug and wanted a dog of his own, too.  He bonded with a "special" dog that had lost one of its front paws.  The kids were worried that because he didn't have all his feet no other family would come to adopt him, so we took him home, too.  Haven named him Alex.  Except for the missing foot, he was a good looking poodle/mystery dog mix.

We took both dogs home and everyone was happy as could be.  But within just a few hours, I had buyers remorse.  Alex and Scuffy were not a good mix.  Alex was aggressive with Scuffy, stalking him all over the house.  Then he bit Katriel. Just a nip, but it we didn't know if it was just nerves or a bad personality that was going to get worse.  Then he lifted his leg on my couch. And then just to put the icing on the cake, he pooped behind the bedroom door, which I didn't see until after I opened the door and I squashed a great mound of crap into the carpet. Throughout all of this craziness, Scuffy was totally chill.  So the next day we took Alex back.  Uggg.  I felt so guilty, but also so relieved.

Lily and Scuffy
Haven was not happy.  He felt betrayed.  We took back his dog.  We let Grace keep her dog.  We hated him and he would never forgive us.

So, a couple of weeks later, of course we succumbed to our guilt and went back to get Haven a new dog. This time we came home with Lily, a tiny teacup poodle.  Too small to do much damage, too small to really even bite. She was sweet and cuddly and playful.  We knew Haven would love her.

After the mid-season trade--Haven and Scuffy

Grace and Lily
He did love Lily, but not as much as Grace did.  After a few hours home they decided to trade dogs.  Lily would be Grace's and Scuffy would be Haven's.  Everyone was happy except....

When we were picking out Lily we also met this very sweet, very beautiful apricot poodle named Rosie. When I picked Rosie up at the kennel she nuzzled her little nose right into my neck. We didn't bring her home to Haven because she was quite skittish.  The circumstances of her abandonment were a little fuzzy, but she was definitely a little afraid of people.  But not of me....

See, she adores me
So the next day we went back and got Rosie.  I've never really had a dog of my own.  Brian had dogs and we had dogs together, but Rosie is my dog.

My dog Rosie
So just like that we now have 6 kids and 3 dogs.  And no guinea pigs.  Clearly I have trouble doing things in moderation.  It's a good thing I don't use drugs (I know, I know, a lot of you out there think I do).

Grace is our dog whisperer.
I have to say that watching the kids with the dogs, especially Grace, had been pretty wonderful.  She isn't always the warmest, fuzziest member of our household.  But she adores the dogs and has a way with each of them.  They've brought out a nurturing side to each of our kids.

So I guess we're dog people again. Especially Grace.

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