Like many other couples, my husband and I decided to add a furry friend (Roxy) to our family of two about a year after our wedding. I’m not sure why that seemed like the next step for us, but it did. Maybe I thought that if I could take care of a dog, then I could take care of a child?
Well, having a dog settled us down a little and gave us more responsibility on a daily basis, but it didn’t come close to preparing us for children or making our lives easier. In fact, having Roxy has been far from easy. In 2014 alone, she tore her ACL (which we had fixed, and let me tell you… that is NOT cheap!), was attacked by another dog, which required an emergency trip to the vet and stitches, and was diagnosed with Lymes disease. She requires at least two walks a day and have I mentioned that it’s January in Wisconsin? Many times, I have thought… why did I want a dog?
But every time I start to think about that question, all it takes is for me to actually look at and reflect on the joy she has brought our family the past four years. I think of my girls, and how just this week, Eva (3) had me put Roxy on a leash in the house so she could take her to the “dog park.” Eva put as many of Roxy’s things as she could into one of my purses and pulled her around the house for at least 10 minutes. Although I’m sure Roxy wasn’t thrilled, she went along with it. I think about how they giggle when we toss Roxy cheerios and she misses, or how they fight over who gets to walk her when we are out. I think about how Roxy is the first one who finds us when we play hide and seek and gives our location away. These are the situations that answer my “why”.
And I remember how she has been there for me. She was allowed to visit me in the hospital, when I was there on bedrest before my girls were born. I remember how happy I was to see her after a few weeks, and what joy she brought me for the few minutes I got to spend with her. I remember her up with me, late at night as I battled two colicky babies. I remember the comfort she brings on bad days, and I look at her right now as she lies by my feet while I write this. Through it all, she’s been there. Maybe she has had no choice in the matter, but her presence has given me comfort and has helped me through some of the most difficult times in my life.
Having a dog hasn’t been easy or convenient for our family, but when I actually think about all of the things that are important and meaningful in my life, they aren’t easy. They take effort… and a lot of it. The easy things aren’t usually the most rewarding. Roxy isn’t just our dog; she is a member of our family. She’s been there for us, and we will be there for her. My girls will have experiences with her and memories of her that will last throughout their lifetime. I am so happy that we made the decision to have a dog in our family. We wouldn’t be the same without her.
How has having a dog (or any pet for that matter) changed your family?