The dog that changes lives
What was I thinking? Ripping a teenage girl away from her home, her roots, her friends, everything she knows?
14-year-old Kerri spends her weekends sulking in her room, bored and lonely and no doubt longing for home.
I long for the nights when I didn’t know where she was, when she was surrounded by friends, good and bad.
I would give anything to take away her pain. This is the curse of motherhood: this bloody feeling of extreme empathy. I cannot have my kids hurting! (This feeling is to cause me all sorts of problems in my life.)
“What would make you feel better?” I ask her one Friday night when she is lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling.
I am thinking along the lines of ice cream, pizza, chicken nuggets.
“A dog,” she replies.
It is absolutely not the right time for us to get a dog. We are living in a rented house; we are unsettled; homesick; there is nothing about our family that could offer the stability that dog ownership demands.
But K needs a friend. A human friend would be preferable I suppose, but I believe it is illegal to buy those. So, naturally, we must have a dog.
Once I make a decision, there is very little that will stop me from acting on it. Protestations from the Husband come thick and fast: “Let’s wait ‘til we’re settled”…. “let’s research breeds”…“let’s look at rescue places”. All reasonable, valid, intelligent points, which of course I ignore. I am neither reasonable nor intelligent.
Instead, I scour the local paper, find something resembling a similar kind of breed to the one I want (I want a German Shepherd but there are none available; a German Shepherd type dog will have to do), and promptly make an appointment to puppy-view, for the very next day.
The Husband is still staying, “let’s not rush into anything” and “we are not leaving here with a dog” when we pull onto the driveway of a farm in Langley.
Here is the thing. As we trundle down that driveway, I have a weird feeling in my belly. It’s realisation, a sensation, that whatever we would be doing in the next hour of our lives would have a massive impact on us as a family.
(I am not wrong. I am not only not wrong, but I am spectacularly, undeniably, unquestionably right).
We leave the farm an hour later with a tan-coloured, 12 week old, German Shepherd style puppy with sad, black-rimmed eyes; chosen mainly because she nestles in The Husband’s arms, gazes up at him adoringly, and refuses to budge.
It’s like she knows exactly which one of us she has to persuade/convince. Clever dog. (She’s not that clever, as it turns out, but she is lovely).
2019 footnote: That sensation I had in my tummy was the closest I have ever come in my life to a premonition. That puppy was to not only become a part of our family for many years to come, but she had a part in changing the whole course of a marriage, a career and the very family she joined.