When I was pregnant and thought about Nora’s future, I saw her as a toddler chasing after our two dogs. Ideally, learning how to throw a ball so she and Maggie would be best friends, and using loveable Dexter as a jungle gym. We spent my pregnancy driving them both crazy to make sure they weren’t secretly food aggressive and got used to having hands by their face/mouth. I expected Olive to be fine, she’s used to change. But the pictures in my head were of her growing up with her dog buddies.
Our motley crew.
Dexter would be her protector and Maggie (our practice baby) would be her entertainment. We adopted Dexter when he was three. Our family told us it was practice for kids. But in reality it was more like having a lazy college student around. He was loud, like to sleep in and is pretty smelly.
Maggie, we got at 10 weeks old. We went on our honeymoon and came back to her (I dubbed it our puppymoon). I got up in the middle of the night to take her out and we learned if we left shoes out, we’d come back to chewy, wet shoes. We worried about the things she ate, and took her to the vet more times than we’d like.
This period (and on-going, she’s still very much in her terrible twos/teen years) gave us the confidence that we were ready to grow our family. We always joked we’d be ready to have a baby when I was as excited to see a baby as much as when I saw a puppy.
Now looking at three months past losing Nora, dogs have continued to be a source of support for us. If you don’t have a dog, you might not understand how they influence your life (especially if you’re a borderline crazy, ok full on crazy dog-lady like me).
After hiding our friends and family with small babies, mom friends who spent the majority of the time extolling the virtues or hardships of motherhood and pregnant friends, it left my Facebook feed to be flooded with all the dog groups I’ve joined over the years. Dogs, dogs, election garbage, grief support groups and more dogs. They bring me bits of joy throughout my day.
At home, our pets continue to comfort us. Its hard to take solace from others. I know they are uncomfortable and I hate making anyone feel sad because I’m sad. But the dogs, they seem to realize when I’m not my best and will sit next to me with their giant head on my shoulder.
They distract us with their antics and give us an outlet for the love we had to give. They also got us through our hardest times. They gave us a reason to get out of bed. As they let us know, they weren’t going to feed themselves. A reason to go outside and a reason to smile when it feels impossible.