I grew up with dogs. Lots of dogs. But they were little dogs – so it never really seemed like that many since their combined weight would probably not even equal what one of my dogs weigh now. I grew up with miniature dachshunds (wiener dogs for those unfamiliar with their official name). Our first dog was Copper, and she was a mix – so she had long hair and was probably about 12-13 pounds. I remember the day we got her – she was so tiny and we kept her in this big open cardboard box in the kitchen because she would get lost so easily. We got another one, Doogie (Like Doogie Houser, MD) and he was probably 6 pounds wringing wet and super feisty. Next came Sandy who was a beautiful big chested red dachshund. Last came my beloved Duchess (Duchess Mahagony Splendar was her “legit name” if you must know). At one point we had all these dogs at the same time plus puppies. Since some of our dogs were registered, they made beautiful puppies and we found them loving homes. Looking back, creating MORE dogs was probably not the smartest idea – but it happened and we always found loving homes for them.
We had a big fenced in backyard and a doggy door so our dogs could go in and out. We had a big yellow slide that my dad installed for us when we were kids that started on the 2nd floor of our house/deck to the yard. We grew out of it, but that yellow slide still remained and the dogs put it to good use. They would slide down it instead of taking the stairs. It seemed perfectly normal to me at the time, but in telling the story, I’m sure that sounds crazy. Either way – it was pretty funny to watch them charge out the doggy door and fly down the slide and land in a sprint across the yard to chase a squirrel.
I never really knew a home without pets, it was just a part of my life growing up. My best friend who lived down the street always tells me she remembers coming to my door and hearing the pitter patter of tiny paws coming to greet her at the door. That melts my heart a little as I’ve obviously had to say goodbye to all these pets as they have lived their lives already, and sometimes I’ll have a vivid memory of them and it brings tears to my eyes because I just had such a special place in my heart for them. Losing them was so hard. I remember Sandy got hurt and was no longer able to walk and my parents had to make the difficult decision to put her to sleep because she wouldn’t have any quality of life. I remember sitting out in the backyard, holding her in my arms and my tears dripping down onto her head as I promised her I would see her again one day.
The day my mom called to tell me my Duchess has passed away was equally sad. I knew she was old and had lived a really good life. I got her when I was in high school and she slept with me every night. Her warm body nestled against mine. Nose edging under the covers, burying herself in my comforter and driving me bat crazy with wanting to get on my bed and off my bed several times a night and having to do this for her since she was too small to make the jump either way. She passed away just a few years ago, and I remember every time I’d visit my parents, I would say good bye to her because I knew it might be the last time. I had a good long cry when my mom called to tell me she had passed away. It seemed like the end of an era – all of our pets from “growing up” were gone. It felt like my heart was breaking.
I guess that meant we had officially grown up.
When I met my husband and we had gotten to a more serious place in our relationship – he talked incessantly about getting a dog. I put my foot down. No dog! And he would show me pictures of adorable puppies and talk about how fun it would be to have one (he wanted a chocolate lab) and I continued to burst his bubble every time. I knew that owning a dog as a grown up would be totally different from my experience of being in a house with dogs as a child. I wasn’t sure I was ready, or We were ready. After all, I don’t have a huge amount of memories of taking the dogs for their shots, or paying for vet bills for a reason! I do remember cleaning up after them some – but not all the time. Our dogs were tiny so they didn’t require long walks and they had each other to keep themselves entertained.
I had a feeling that my boyfriend (at the time) didn’t know what he was going to get himself into. We lived a life of going and doing whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. No schedule other than work hours. We didn’t really have any responsibilities to anyone other than ourselves and for whatever reason – I appreciated that time in my life. I had dated others before with a pet and I did a lot of the work. I knew how much time and energy it took to be a good pet owner. I also remembered how much my heart ached when I lost one of my pups in the past, was I ready for that? Could my heart take it?
When one of our good friends mentioned their neighbors had a litter of puppies (lab mix), I knew my time was up. We walked over to see the pups and they were only a few weeks old and of course, my heart melted. There was one chunky chocolate boy with a white patch on his chest and toes that jumped in to my heart immediately. It was love at first sight and I knew we would be counting down the weeks before we were officially dog parents.
I knew how much I was going to love this dog even though I knew my schedule wouldn’t be mine anymore because I would be responsible for another life. It changed everything.
But mostly, it made my heart grow bigger. And as our little Yoshi grew up, I think we did, too, in a lot of ways. And along the way, we rescued another dog and named her Peach – and they are a huge part of our family. They are big dogs (75 pounds and 50 pounds), so they feel more like actual children when they want to sit in your lap. We spoil them too much, and I often get weepy eyed thinking about the day that their lives will be spent because they have been such a huge part of my first “grown up family” experience.
Today is Yoshi’s 3rd birthday, and I love him even more today than I did the first time I saw him. And since we don’t know when Peach’s actual birthday is, we just celebrate them on the same day. Three years have flown by and so much has changed – but they remind me everyday that there is always room in your heart to love more. Even though sometimes I feel like my heart will burst, they have taught me about patience and unconditional love. It’s nice to have them greet me everyday with kisses and jumps (even though I’m not as excited about the jumping) – it’s like being someone’s favorite person every single day.
- Their first lake adventure together