My heart was caught when I saw his blue eyes. Hook, line and sinker. I didn’t know I wanted a dog with blue eyes. A few years ago I didn’t know I wanted a dog at all.
During my year of cancer (2016), 2 kinds, 4 surgeries, 12 rounds of chemo, 22 rounds of Herceptin with a few more to go in 2017, something began to stir within me. I can only relate it to a woman who suddenly finds herself longing for one more child. The emotional tug for little one to hold, to depend upon her for sustenance, for love, for protection. Quite easily she down plays the 9 months of pregnancy – the pounds she will gain. Never mind the labor pains and the fear that will encompass her very being that childbirth will bring on. Forget the sleepless nights, the painful nursing and never mind potty training. All of that seems so small compared to the great love a new family member would bring. No, I didn’t want another child, another human being. I wanted a dog. An endlessly devoted companion that would love me, shadow me, be with me.
My husband thought I was crazy when I brought it up. Still does actually. I left it alone for a while – secretly researching breeds, puppy vs mature dog, family friendly options, hypoallergenic breeds, and training info. I became a wealth of knowledge. I was gearing up for battle. The next time I brought up the idea of a dog to my husband I was prepared. I had an answer for every question. An informed, intelligent answer. He was impressed but not persuaded.
I felt his resolve weakening – just a little. I decided to leak the idea to the kids. I needed to beef up the army and weight my side of the debate. My husband kept quiet. Contemplatively listening as the kids got excited and discussed names and where the dog would sleep. I mentioned the idea to a few close friends when my husband was in ear shot. His voice although silent was loud in my ears. He didn’t say no, but he didn’t say yes either. Finally a friend asked him point-blank, “So, you’re getting a dog?” My husband responded, “I know when a battle is lost.” I knew I was getting a dog. I began to prepare. I gathered more information, puppy supplies, put a puppy on hold with the breeder and asked more questions. The kids and I were getting quite excited.
About a week before getting our dog I found myself in a slight panic. What was I doing? I love my sleep. Cherish it actually. I hate (and I do not use that word lightly), hate getting up in the middle of the night or early in the morning. I naturally wake up around 7:15 AM in the darker months and 6:30 to 6:45 AM in the sunnier months. I NEVER set an alarm unless I am going on vacation. Seriously. My son has woken me up when I slept longer than him and he needed to get ready for school. How is that for honesty? I like to naturally wake up. I know that sounds spoiled, Or you could call it privileged. I have been blessed with the opportunity to not have to wake up to an alarm clock for the better part of about 12 years actually. That’s not to say I do not work, I do. My appointments typically aren’t before 10:00 AM. On the rare occasion that they are earlier I either have my husband wake me up or somehow my body wakes up knowing it is time to get up. Phew! Bunny trail sort of…. I began to think through the fact that this puppy would not sleep through the night (initially), would need to go out side day and night, rain or shine (or snow in the case of this winter). And I would be the one responsible for this event, each and every time. I had promised my husband that this was my deal. If we got a puppy it was all on me. What was I thinking?!?!? I, like the woman wanting one more baby, was willing to look past what I hoped would be a temporary period of painful wake ups in the middle of the night, as well as the not as temporary frustration of potty training an infant (dog) and set my eyes on the prize of the joy and happiness a dog would bring our family. And yet, in these final moments I began to question my ability to in fact make it all work.
A few days before I drove the nearly two hours to Bellingham to bring home our puppy, I made a name plate for his kennel.
Bailey – Guardian Protector
“He will watch over your life.”
While making the name plate it all came together for me. I wanted Bailey – a dog, a loyal companion that would guard and protect my family and I. I wanted a family dog. Something that I have never had. I knew it would bring chaos to our lives for a while and change how we do things going forward. But amidst the chaos and beyond I think we will build a lot of amazing memories going forward – post cancer.