We had about a dozen really good reasons not to get a dog. Most of them turned out to be valid, but, in the end, not one of them mattered.
Dogs are expensive. They require food, treats, crates, squeaky toys, harnesses, leashes, heart worm pills and trips to the vet.
Dogs, especially puppies, require lots of attention. Let him in. Let him out. Did he pee? Did he poop? And when they’re exploring their new world, they’re incapable of discerning the difference between soccer cleats and a chew toy.
And we weren’t sure if our family was ready — if the girls were responsible enough to pitch in with the extra feeding and cleaning and walking.
But the biggest drawback was me. I can be a bit of a curmudgeon and have been known to cling to the illusion that I’m in control. There’s something distinctly out-of-control about having an unpredictable pack animal in your home, not to mention one that tracks in all kinds of allergens and minuscule crawly things.
So, with all of those seeds of doubt stewing in our indecisive brains, my wife decided we could ease into dog ownership by fostering some rescued puppies. Sort of a no-obligation doggie test drive. I reluctantly agreed.
Our first fosters were brothers, 7-week-old Rottweiler/bulldog mixes. Highly spirited and cute beyond description. And to help with the transition, the rescue organization provided us with a crate, exercise pen, bedding and food.
I’m not going to claim that it was all giggles and grins. It wasn’t. A whole new level of chaos erupted in the house, as our front room turned into a kennel. The pen was set up in front of the dining table, and the room became littered with toys and training pads and food bowls. It was loud and smelly.
Since it was my wife’s idea, she volunteered to get up in the middle of the night to let them out. The girls heaped lots of love and guidance on the pups, and kept them fed and watered. I helped by shuffling around the house muttering to myself as I picked up various shredded items and wiping up puddles of pee.
After three weeks of climbing over baby gates in every doorway and having all conversations revolve around canine welfare, I was thrilled when the boys were adopted by lovely and eager families.
I seemed to be the only one who savored the regained order and heavenly silence. Our girls were sad and said the house seemed empty. Lucky for them, the rescue called with news of a litter of 10 abandoned pups. My wife’s big heart couldn’t say no, so she and the girls persuaded me to take in two males.
They were 5-week-old mutts — possibly a mix of Rhodesian ridgeback, beagle, American Staffordshire terrier and wire-haired dachshund — the color of toasted waffles with lots of saggy skin to grow into. They wrestled and snarled and snapped at each other for hours on end before snuggling together for long naps.
The bigger of the two was adopted after three weeks. His brother was so distraught that he whimpered and whined for days as he moped around heartbroken. The girls named him Dobby after the doe-eyed, sock-loving, floppy-eared house-elf in the Harry Potter series.
As the weeks passed with no interest in adopting Dobby and as we all grew to love him, it became apparent that he was meant to be with us. By the time we made his adoption official, he already seemed like a member of the family.
Dobby is pure love. The more you dish on him, the more he gives it back. He greets us every morning with licks and kisses. His whole backside wags when we come home from an errand. Whenever I hug my wife or one of our girls, he wiggles in between us so he can share in the love.
He was five cuddly pounds when we first met. Now, at 6 months, he’s about 40 pounds and growing. He rings a bell that hangs from our back door when he needs to go out. He wants so desperately to please, and he doesn’t hold grudges.
As the only two males in the house, he and I have bonded. We do testosteroney things like wrestle on the floor, chase each other in the yard and play tug-of-war.
Our older daughter says that the house just seems more active and lively now that Dobby is part of the family. We walk more. We play more, not just with him, but with each other. And because he’s so social, we’ve met lots of new dogs and people.
We had exchanged no more than some waves and hellos with our neighbor across the street. But since Dobby arrived, we’ve become good friends with him and Foxy, his Jack Russell terrier. He watches Dobby when we’re away, and Foxy hangs out in our backyard.
If you try hard enough, you can come up with hundreds of reasons not to do anything in life — adopt a pet, get married, start a family, accept a job offer, whatever. But you only need one good reason to take a leap of faith.
Reach freelancer Jim Cosgrove at firstname.lastname@example.org.