Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?

(Kind of a long post. Lots of pictures! Just an update on the family...)

We got a dog. There, I said it. I think if I say it enough, it will sink in. We got a dog.

Lane has been on me about getting a dog for years. This request has always been met with the same answer. Not now and here is why:

  • Dogs cost money. We are trying to save money. It doesn’t add up.
  • Our home life is already crazy and unpredictable -- beyond most people’s crazy and unpredictable lives.
  • Who will be left taking care of the dog? Mama. I am the one home all day. No thanks!
  • Where will we put the dog when we travel? Remember the point about saving money and not spending it?

A few weeks ago during breakfast, he asked me, “Mom, has it crossed your mind to maybe get a dog sometime soon?” He has never been obnoxious about it. He doesn’t beg or nag. He just asks every so often. It was something about that particular time, with his voice so sweet and patient, that pushed me into seriously thinking about bringing home a dog. After talking it over with my husband, we announced to Lane that we could start on our journey of finding the right dog for our family. Lane was thankful and ecstatic at the same time. His first words were, “Can we go get one now?” I had the pleasure of hearing those words many many times over the next couple of weeks!

After scouting out all of the surrounding shelters for the perfect fit for our family, we thought it was going to take much longer than anticipated. We had not t seen one dog that fit our picture of what we wanted. We decided to widen our search, and drove 45 minutes away to one last shelter that, hopefully, would provide us with our doggie.

That day we brought home “Tanner”. As soon as my husband and I set eyes on him and saw his disposition, we knew he was ours. When he came home from school later that afternoon, I was met at our door by Lane along with many of his curious and eager neighborhood friends. From that day on, this dog has been played with, cradled, walked, loved on, and wrestled with by not only my kids, but by plenty of others up and down our street.

Although this is officially “Lane’s” first dog, he isn’t the first dog to be part of the Haden Family. My baby before real babies was Toby, a miniature Yorkie. I had him all through college and my twenties. Toby had a wardrobe of T-shirts, pajamas, and a swimming suit. I taught him lots of cute tricks, and he was even voted “Denton County’s Most Talented Dog” several years in a row (He won talent contests at a local dog fair). He became a “Haden” when Chris and I married. He became a “dog” when I brought Lane home from the hospital! I didn’t love him any less, but I quickly realized what having a real baby was like, and Toby was definitely a dog.

Two years later, after Elise came along, Toby went to live with my parents. He just proved to be too much to care for along with Lane and his very needy new sister. Toby died this past year, and along with him went a large piece of my youth and my heart.

Several years passed after Toby moved out to live with my parents, and we found ourselves with an opportunity to get a new Labrador puppy. A woman at our church offered us one in the hopes that he could be of some help and maybe even a companion to Elise. We brought him home with high hopes, but very quickly realized that he was less a companion to Elise, and more a buddy to Lane. Special training that we were to get for this dog fell through, leaving us with the job of figuring out how to make a connection between him and our little girl.

I understand how beneficial dogs are to children with special needs, but the truth is, Elise just wasn’t able to connect with something that she didn’t know existed unless he was licking her face or we were forcing her to rub her hand across his fur. In the few months that we had Bonnie, we witnessed how much enjoyment Lane had from having a dog around.

The problem was, though, that ultimately this dog was bred to be a companion to someone with special needs. When it became painfully obvious that that wasn’t going to happen with Elise, we knew we needed to give Bonnie back so she could be of help to someone else who needed her (She ended up with a boy with Aspergers).

Fast forward 3 years, and here we are! I have to admit, I was scared. Scared of vet bills, where to leave him when we’re gone, training, walking, and the giving of attention to yet one more being in my household.

I’m not scared anymore. The kids love him. He loves the kids. I initially intended on waiting a bit before introducing him to Elise, just to get a feel for his true personality. As days went on, though, I noticed that each time Elise cries or screams from her room, Tanner perks up and shows great concern as to what is going on. I have caught him several times kissing her in the face (Ewww!) when I have turned my back. He is gentle and cautious around her.

My hope in the coming weeks and months is that Tanner can be a companion to not just Lane, but to our entire family. Who knows, maybe Elise will even take a turn petting him and exploring what in the world this thing is next to her with wiry hair, a wet nose, and thumping tail!

Never mind that I have bathed this dog 3 times in 3 days (it’s raining here), said the words, “No, Tanner!” at least 576 times, and had to add stronger scents to my Scentsy just to cover up the new dog scent in our living room. This is finally the right time in our lives to add a new family member. Everyone is pitching in and doing their share.

He’s a good dog, and I think we’ll keep him.

Baby Lane and Toby in 2002

I was obviously still struggling with the fact that Toby was not my baby anymore!

Toby with Chris and Lane. He had beautiful hair… when I brushed it!

Lane and Toby

Two buddies playing in the backyard.

Bonnie sleeping in Elise’s bed

Bonnie laying by as Elise works with her switch fan.

I didn’t even ask!

The boys are proud of their new buddy!

It takes two to walk him...

A boy and his dog.

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