Sunday, February 05, 2012

Third child

Our third child – a girl – has arrived.

Via adoption.

At seven months, she's the picture of health and predictably adorable: Brown hair; a cute-as-a-button nose; and she's an angel when she sleeps, which happens suddenly and throughout the day.

She's perfect in almost every way except maybe one (I wish she'd stop chewing the insoles out of my shoes) or two or four dozen other little foibles ...

Such as pooping in our formal living room ...

Or begging at the table ...

Or stealing socks out of the laundry basket and burying them in the couch ...

Or playing keep-away (and then tug-o-war) with my brand new scarf …

That's puppyhood for you. A period of approximately seven years where dogs pretend to be Kato and their caretakers try not to be Inspector Clouseau -- bumbling and ineffective – every time they walk in the door, even if they were gone for only as long as it takes to put garbage into the trash can.

Her name is Roosevelt, but we call her “Rosie” for short. It suits her, for she's surely progressive if not entirely liberal.

After all, she did learn to sit the first day she arrived. Though most everything else – including housebreaking – is a process requiring much oversight and many, many mistakes.

I'd almost forgotten about these training trials when I saw Rosie's cute little face on the shelter organization's website. All I saw was the puppy my old dog had been way back when and remembering what it was like to have a new dog wiggle its way into your heart.

It's not as if I'd been counting the days. When we lost our dearly beloved, albeit incontinent, geriatric dog six months ago, I wasn't sure how long it would be before I'd be ready to welcome another pooch into our lives.

I thought it might be never after so much time had passed. And there were other things to consider.

We have a cat who, quite frankly, seems remarkably doglike, all she needs to do is learn how to bark. We also have a busy home with small children, toys that will be missed if they turn into shredded plastic and more shoes than any four humans should own. And frankly, I'd gotten used to not cleaning up smelly surprises.

The idea of opening our home for inspection and putting our pet-keeping history under the magnifier of scrutiny seemed like a tough pill to swallow as well.

Dogs had always come into our lives when we least expected. They needed us more than we needed them.

But one look at her picture made me remember Dog People, at some point, need dogs. It also reminded me that pills are only bitter until they start making you feel better.

So off we went to the adoption clinic. An hour after meeting her we knew the chance to bring her home would be worth any blazing-fire, hoop jumping required.

In a week we took her home. In short order she made the house her own, complete with nests of chewed up tissue paper and overly enthusiastic airborne greetings … not to mention the not-so-pleasingly aromatic ones.

Even if she isn't perfect. Even if she chews up all of our pencils, or steals food, or scratches the kids with her jumping, she's a good dog and worth the effort.

And her antics are already imparting wisdom that all my parenting efforts have been unable to achieve:

Such as the value of returning toys to the toy box once playtime has ended, or putting shoes in the closet instead of wherever they land, or eating snacks at the table instead of the couch. Chewed bits of prized possessions inspire more motivation than a mother hollering herself horse.

My bark, I assure you, is not worse than a puppy's bite.

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