Before deciding we wanted to have a second child, we decided we wanted to have a dog. We started watching the local shelters’ websites for new arrivals with one key phrase in their profile: kid friendly. As it turned out, that was a rare descriptor. A lot of dogs who end up in shelters are uneasy with children, especially if they’ve come from a home where they were abused by kids. Even if they might decide they like kids eventually, they’re often too fragile to deal with little hands and fingers when they’ve only recently been rescued. In fact, I rarely saw the phrase “kid friendly” on any dog, and the local shelters would not adopt a dog to a family without feeling fully confident the dog would be safe around children.
Then we saw Josie. Well, that wasn’t her name: at that point in time, she was called Tawny, and she’d just been found under a bridge in the Tri-Cities with one nine-week-old puppy. She’d been on the website for literally minutes when I saw her picture pop up, and though we had been looking for a slightly larger dog, I called my husband immediately and told him to go see her as quickly as possible after work (I’d promised he could pick our dog, so he got first refusal). He thought I was being dramatic, that there was no way the dog would be scooped up so quickly, but he took my advice and left to go see her at four. Minutes after he came in, the first in line to meet Tawny, another couple came in. Then another. She was a highly sought-after commodity.
My husband called me to bring the boy down as quick as I could. I brought him in and she played with him, licked him, let him pat her fur. She laid down in my lap, belly up, and looked at me as if to say, “Please take me home with you.” As you might guess, we did.
I had never imagined owning a lap dog, or a dog whose hair keeps growing and growing (she’s a shih tsu/terrier mix). I had no idea what to expect except for the obvious, which was that this dog was full of love. She’s something of a mix between cat and dog, with a tendency to laze in patches of sun and to perch on the back of the couch, but a great love for walks and squeaky toys. She’s by no means the perfect dog–she’s been difficult to train and she’ll go to town on a poopy diaper or a dirty litter box if ever she’s given the chance, she howls when we leave the house and prefers to pee indoors when the weather’s too unpleasant–but she’s the sweetest, cutest little girl we could have found. She puts up with so much from our kids and she takes it all with grace. She is a mommy dog (remember that puppy I mentioned? it found a good home right away) and she comes to cuddle when she senses someone needs comfort. If the baby is crying in bed, she’ll come get someone’s attention and then go lie down by the baby’s door. She’s not the dog we imagined when we set our sights on adoption, but I’m glad she isn’t because sometimes the best things are the most surprising.