I am not by nature a dog lover. My family ended up having a dog because of a promise.
We made a major change to our living circumstances fifteen years ago. To make the move a bit more palatable to our children we asked each one what they desired. One of my sons never faltered on his response. A dog. That was his request. Consistently. We agreed, but we’d get one only once we were settled in a home.
A year later he reminded us that we still owed him a dog. We offered him Nintendo instead. He thought that was a great deal. We purchased the game and preceded to set it up. Ah, we were so smug! An hour into playing he turned to us and asked when the dog was coming. By the next morning the Nintendo was repackaged and heading back to the store. A promise is a promise! We preceded with our adoption of a dog. (Thank you Benjamin)
I didn’t grow up with a dog. The first time I ever held a dog was only after we picked up Malone, our cockapoo. He was given this name by default: all our pets are named Malone. Once we had a cockatiel (a bird), given to us by my mother-in-law. We always thought he would speak and only found out after months of trying to teach him words that cockatiels don’t speak. Ultimately he was banished to live in the basement after our first child was born and I read that bird’s feces can be fatal to infants. Eventually he found a nice home with a single cousin of mine.
But back to Malone. Dogs are a wonderful addition to a family; I advise people who are interested in adopting a dog for their family to make sure to do so when their children are young. Otherwise, like us, your kids leave home but your dog does not. After all our children left home Malone was lonely for them — let’s be honest, our children were a lot more fun for him to kick around with than my husband and me! It was amazing to see, even as the years passed and he slowed down, when our children walked in the door he reverted back to the young, energetic pup he once was.
As Malone got older we were a bit tethered to our house, I say this matter of factly not resentfully. I loved Malone. He was a great dog. A great family pet. Full of personality and love. Well behaved, well trained (Thank you Nathan!), wonderful around children, the first – and often only – one to greet me at the door, a real people dog. He was excitable at times yet always had a calm, sweet way about him.
At the end of the day, I probably ended up spending the most time with Malone. I took care of him, fed him, was often home alone with him, regularly took him on long walks (Thank you Malone, for that I am forever grateful!), and cleaned up after him. He wasn’t my dog but he was my responsibility. And I loved him.
I never lived with a dog before so I never knew what it felt like to lose one. Last Friday Malone died. I feel really, really sad about that. He was old, almost 14 years, which is a good stretch for a dog. And although his body was starting to break down, luckily he wasn’t yet suffering from the ravages of age.
Dogs are a big commitment both emotionally and financially. My husband used to say that buying a dog was the least expensive part of pet ownership, and he’s right. But my response to that is; what pets give back is invaluable. And my husband agrees. They are such a special addition in a family, especially as you see each member establishing their own unique relationship.
Although I never wanted a dog — I actually became panic sticken when we went to pick him up at the breeders, knowing he would forever change our life, but unsure just how that would play out — Malone quickly won us over and became a beloved member of our family.
We were so fortunate he chose us as his family. We will miss having him underfoot.