To say I’ve never been a dog person would be an understatement. My dislike of dogs is something that goes back a long way.
Me And Dogs
Growing up, we never had dogs because my mom was afraid of them. And I can remember very few friends who had pet dogs. Which means I wasn’t exposed to dogs very often in a positive way.
Meanwhile, I had plenty of negative experiences with dogs as a child.
I could tell you about the dog that jumped through our screen door when I was about 4 years old, scaring me and my mom. Or the dog that broke its chain and attacked me from behind at a holiday picnic, taking a chunk of skin from my back. Or the fact that I had a newspaper route for several years and every day I had to plan how to avoid the neighborhood dogs.
As I became an adult, the idea of having a pet dog rarely entered my mind. Not only did I still have lingering fear of them, they seemed like so much work! I remember a friend in graduate school who was always running home to take care of her dog. No thanks!!!
My Wife And Dogs
Things changed a few years ago when I met my wife. To say that my wife is obsessed with dogs would also be an understatement.
I’m not sure how many dogs my wife has because the number always seems to be in flux and most of them live at her mom’s house. But it’s about 8.
My wife has also rescued over 100 dogs from the streets of Bogota, fixing them up, and finding homes for them.
My wife actually loves all animals – she’s a biologist – but dogs are her first true love. They’re her passion. Or perhaps obsession would be a better word.
Brandy and Chloe
When we got married last October, I knew that living with dogs was a non-negotiable. And not just living with them, but sleeping with them as well.
The original idea was for her to bring over Chloe (a beagle) and Hannah (a small mix).
Chloe is indeed living with us now. Hannah, however, is still at my mother-in-laws house.
The reason that Hannah isn’t living with us is because of Brandy. Brandy is a boxer that my wife rescued over a year ago.
The original family that adopted Brandy changed their mind after a week. My wife then gave Brandy to her uncle. But eventually her uncle was no longer able to care for her so once again my wife was looking for a home for Brandy.
The original idea was for Brandy to live with us for a week or two while my wife searched for a more permanent home. Within 5 minutes of bringing Brandy to our apartment, I looked at my wife and knew that Brandy was here to stay.
Living With Dogs
What’s happened since Brandy and Chloe have moved in with us is interesting.
My wife and I never really discussed it but somehow I’ve taken over about 90% of the responsibility for the dogs.
I feed them, walk them, take them out for their potty breaks, and help clean up any accidents.
But it’s more than that. I find myself buying them treats in the grocery store. I spent hours online researching food options for Brandy. I spent hours gathering input on how to house train Chloe and then trying to implement those methods (unfortunately I’ve been mostly unsuccessful!).
I also worry over them. I worry when my wife and I are gone for a few hours, and always make sure that we’re not gone for two long.
And of course, there’s all the time I spend petting them, giving them hugs, and playing with them. I sometimes wonder what happened to that guy who really, really did not like dogs!!!
How I’ve Changed
They say that having kids changes you, makes you become less selfish, and more responsible. I don’t know if my wife and I will ever have children. After all, I’m 46 and she’s 38 so we’re reaching a now or never phase of life.
But even if we don’t have kids, I know that I’ve changed for the better as a result of living with dogs.
Oh sure, they can be a pain from time to time. But the honest truth is that they’ve stolen my heart.
As I type these words, Chloe is curled up between my legs and Brandy is snoring a few feet away from me. How precious is that?
My cousin once told me that the only time she’s seen her husband cry is when their dog died.
I get that now. Because from time to time I think about what it will be like when these two precious animals are no longer part of my life. And how sad I’ll feel. And I imagine myself crying a lot.
If you want to change your life, maybe you don’t need to do anything radical. Maybe you just need to adopt a dog. And let it open your heart, just like mine has been opened.