The story of our first pup, who arrived in our lives in February 2010, almost a year before he deployed the last time. This is just a bit of history before we continue the tale. I don’t know about ya’ll, but I needed a few puppy pictures before delving into the rest of the story.
“We need a puppy,” I said with grave resolve.
He looked at me like I was crazy, as he is wont to do. I knew that he was considering our little 900 square foot home which was wedged as tight as possible with furniture, toys and people and wondering where we would stash a canine.
“We have a big yard,” I countered his imaginary argument.
His eyes wandered to the open back yard. A couple hundred feet of woods separated us from a major highway.
“We can get a fence!” He hadn’t said “no,” yet, so I was hopeful.
“No,” he said with what he imagined to be finality.
I persisted. He’s not the only stubborn mule in this relationship.
“Hear me out,” I demanded. His eyes got a little glassy so I kept talking. “You see, this is the only time that it makes sense to get a puppy. You’re going to be home for an entire year! You can help train it and walk it and bond with it! Also, we would be safer with a dog in the house. It’s like a built in alarm system! And seriously, what are some of your best childhood memories? Dogs. Mine, too. We’re going to deny our children that? Should we wait until you are out of the military? They will be grown. We can’t do that to them. It’s practically neglect. Where would you have been without Sasha? Wile E?”
That last bit was a low but effective blow. “I’ll think about it,” he conceded.
The kids and I immediately declared victory and launched a puppy search. We kept the house unusually clean, constantly reminding ourselves, “If it’s on the floor, the puppy will chew it!” I went online to all the rescues in the area and found all sorts of shepherds. Somehow the photos were always mysteriously displayed on my computer screen when Ollie got home from work.
He was not impressed. A few times he gave me an obligatory, “It’s cute,” but he never let up the resistance. Then one day as I was searching the pet finder site, I found her.
She was this little fluffy white ball of helplessly adorable goodness. Birch and I simultaneously squealed when her face popped up. The littles were equally enthralled. We found our pookie. I fired off an email to find out her story. She was the puppy of a rescued mama. The foster family couldn’t handle the whole litter and they needed homes as soon as they could be separated from their mom. She was born the day after Christmas, 2009. Her name was Wednesday.
“I found her. We have to get her. She NEEDS us,” I texted him.
He gave us all a stern talking-to about pet responsibility, about walking, training, feeding, socializing the dog. We kept nodding until he stopped talking. I had no idea what we agreed to, but we were getting a puppy! My only requirement was that the kids clean up the poop in the yard. “I’ve wiped enough butts and cleaned enough poop for a lifetime,” I declared. They nodded at me, with eyes bright from puppy wonder.
“Her name is Wednesday! That’s so awesome!” I announced.
“Wednesday is a dumb name. Changing it was one of the requirements for getting her. Weren’t you listening?” He scowled at me. I didn’t buy his tough act for a second. This was the man who “doesn’t like cats” but made sure our Stella had treats in her bowl every morning. He took her outside and taught her how to hunt moles when she was a kitten. She slept on his feet every night. He even had a puppy in Afghanistan for several months before he came home. I told him we could change the name but secretly planned to call her Wednesday as much as possible so it stuck. He got to name our youngest kid. Fair’s fair.
In early February, 2010, the kids and I drove several hours to pick her up. When I stepped out of the van and saw her, my first thought was, “She’s short!” She was adorable, perfect, and very much our pookie, despite her surprisingly stubby limbs. Birch wrapped her up in a blanket and cuddled with her all the way home.
Ollie was working a 24 hour shift so he only got to meet her for a few minutes in the parking outside the office. That man stuffed his nose right down in her scruff and inhaled her puppy dog scent. Hardened warrior who didn’t want a dog, my ass.
I texted him updates throughout the day, including such gems as, “She pooped in the yard!”, “She likes smelling butts!” and “Stella seems to like her!”
At bedtime I let him know I was putting her in her crate, which was beside our bed.
“You can’t put her in the crate!” He was aghast.
“What do you mean, I can’t put her in the crate? We’re crate training. I thought we agreed on this,” I said.
“We’ve co-slept with all of our babies and we will co-sleep with her, too!” he announced passionately. “She will sleep in our bed. That’s how she bonds!”
I was completely caught off guard. At no time had I considered us to be the sort of people who let a dog sleep on the bed. The cat was one thing, but a dog? I argued half-heartedly for a few minutes but he won. She snuggled in the covers and fell asleep for the whole night.
When he came home the next morning, they were fast friends. It was as though she knew he was responsible for her cushy sleeping accommodations.
He named her Rose, to be called Rosie until she grew into her adult name. For a couple of weeks I tried to keep Wednesday going, but it just didn’t fit anymore. Dagnabbit.
For months he referred to her as his “shepherd.” He insisted that she would get taller, even when I watched a neighbor’s (real) shepherd grow at an alarmingly fast rate compared to her. We waited in vain for her ears to stand up tall. He often took her running, as if to encourage her legs to grow long enough to keep up with him. It never worked. She was short just like the rest of us.
Rosie, with her stumpy little legs and a passel of bad puppy habits, was the perfect addition to our family.