Walking into Morris Animal Refuge that day, I was not planning on adopting a dog. 3 days earlier, we had just decided that we might be ready to try fostering a dog. Just before my volunteer shift officially started, I did a walk through like normal to see who is still here, and who is new. I’m always a little sad to see some of the animals that I’ve gotten to know leave, but much more happier that they have found a forever home. As I near the end of the dog area, this little tan wiggly dog with rather large ears and eager eyes catches my attention. She’s new. Again, I tend to love all animals fairly quickly, but this moment was different. I fell in love. This was our first moment Prim. You backed up in your cage, performed an official downward dog, your whole backside moving the entire time. I approach you, and reach into the cage. You look up at me, unsure. I hope you like me. I need to introduce you to Derrick. I’m filled with joy, nerves, and a base level of unconditional love. In that moment, I realized we had an unplanned pregnancy on our hands. You will be coming home with us.
As my little girl, I see big things in your future. First off, I really hope you and your brother Peeta get along a little less… intensely. Peeta doesn’t like to be stood on. Even though you might not always see eye to eye, siblings are your best friends. I want you to be a good dog. I hope you learn to trust us, and to respect us when we ask you to do things like sit, stay, and wash the dishes. And most importantly, we’re the alpha dogs in this relationship, so just relax eh?
I love how you sleep at night, how your little feet quickly hurry into your crate when we turn the lights off as we get ready for bed. I just feel relieved and relaxed that you feel safe to do this, and that I hopefully will also get a good night’s rest. I love that your wiggling behind greets us any time we leave you, if for a few minutes, or for a few hours. Whatever was on my mind slips away and I am present with you in that moment of “I love you dad!” When I’m feeling over, or underwhelmed, having you run by my feet breaks me out of that moment, and reminds me that I need to be here present with you.
I hate when I lose my patience with you, which happens more often than I’d like. Thank you for pushing my capacity, for forgiving me, and for letting me get better at being a parent than I was the day before. Having a dog has been much more challenging than I expected. Shortly after we brought you home, I was forced to realize, and to accept how unhappy I was with our lives in Philadelphia, and that I was not taking care of myself effectively. Faced in a situation where I needed to take care of you, everything seemed extremely overwhelming. It was at that moment that I hit my lowest point. I felt crushed and begged to go home. I had said it out loud and I was fully honest, and that weight and that build up was gone. Once the tears stopped, I felt I could finally look forward. Derrick holding my hand, you in my lap, and perched Peeta on the couch, I understood that my life is bigger than me now. In a way, you may have rescued me.
In closing I want to tell you what a family is to me. A family is there for one another. There is a sense of play, of celebration, of communication, and of respect. A family is giving a home to someone who needs it. We all will mess up, fall on our faces, poop on the floor (… Prim… ), and yell when we shouldn’t. Let’s try to stay patient, and go high when others go low (quoted from my friend Michelle O). Family can be something someone is born into, or something that someone chooses. A family can be human, dog, cat, fish, plant, and no matter what anyone says, no family is less than, or superior to, than any other family. A family is love, and love is a family. We are a family.
Happy National Dog Day, and welcome to our family.
If you missed our fantastic colorful Introduction to Prim Photoshoot, click here. Our baby dog announcement photoshoot was inspired by Photographer Elisha Minnette’s shoot with Matt, Abby, and their baby Humphry. Thank you for showing us that all moments are worth capturing with a professional photoshoot, and that all babies are equally significant.
Thank you for welcoming Primrose into our family! Your support, encouragement, and laughs are such beautiful things! And for those asking: human babies aren’t in the immediate future, but we will see! 🙂
Song of the Day: Something Wild by Lindsey Stirling (featured in Pete’s Dragon, a wonderful movie of a boy and his dog, and a dog and his boy)
3 comments on “A Letter to Our Dog”
What a wonderful post. I have to admit a few tears happened.
It’s amazing how dogs impact our lives. Cats too. The love I feel for Sputnik, Merlin, JP and now Orbit is the most intense emotion I’ve ever experienced. And the pain I felt over the loss of Sput was more than I ever expected and I don’t know if I’ll ever truly get over that. Your experience of letting go and being present with Prim hit home for me because it was the addition of Orbit that allowed me to begin the healing process after Sput. His past makes me ache, but it also makes me push forward so that he never experiences such awfulness ever again. And when he finally trusted us and knew we would keep him safe, I was overjoyed. I was worried that he’d forget who I was after being back home for a couple of weeks, but his wiggly bum and helicopter tail dispelled any concerns and we quickly took up where we left off.
I’m so glad that you and Derrick are finally able to add a dog to your family, especially a rescue. It’s a wonderful ride and I look forward to hearing all your stories and maybe some day meeting Prim. I think her and Orbit would have fun together 🙂
Oh Mike this is so sweet and honest – like all your posts! You’re a courageous and strong man, and you’re right in the middle of doing something (well, a few things!) that are big, scary, and beyond the zone that many people allow themselves out of. Thanks for sharing your journey with us – keep the optimism flowing and the courage coming! Hugs!