Once upon a time, there was a peaceful household in the fair land of Texas.
Was being the operative word. :-)
Last summer, my husband Kevin and I had to have our dog Kokopelli put to sleep after it became clear that she was losing her battle with cancer. It was a sad time for us, but we were comforted with the knowledge that we made the right decision for her.
Our three cats helped us to move on eventually. In the Stauber family, there are always lots of furry bellies to rub...thankfully none of them belong to me or Kevin. :-)
One autumn weekend, Kevin and I were out running errands and we decided to pay a visit to the little "mom 'n pop" place where we used to buy the special diet food that Koko had to have. Kev likes to look at the fish and I follow behind and listen to him explain what an amazing fish the Oscar is. It's a standard pet store ritual for us. I knew Kevin was starting to get the itch for another dog, but I was holding him off. We needed new floors, new paint, and a million other things before we needed to welcome another mouth to feed.
Then...I saw her. Oh, dear Lord, help me...I saw her.
She was laying with her back to me and when I walked by, she turn her head and looked over her shoulder at me...upside down. It was as if she said "Are you my momma?" Big, sad, brown eyes. Long black eyelashes. Chubby little belly. Big giant toes. And Kev saw me looking. Damn it!
And that's how it started...6 months ago. I walked out of that store holding our newly adopted, 20 pound Saint Bernard puppy on my hip like a 5 year old. She was 9 weeks old. As I walked to the truck, I felt a vague sense of dread as I remembered the pet store lady telling us that the puppy's daddy weighed 175 pounds. I put her in the truck and got in beside her and thought to myself, "Uh oh..." But it was too late. She put her little head on my shoulder and let out the sweetest little sigh. And I was done. That was it. She was mine. Even more, I was hers. And there wasn't a doggy mommy in the world who was prouder than I was at that moment.
And so began...my life with a Saint.
** Please note: I do NOT recommend buying a dog from any pet store. This is the first time we've ever done it and we feel terrible that it's where we got her. But the simple fact is that we DID get her at a small pet store...and it's simply because I could not imagine my life without her as soon as she looked at me. I could not bear the idea of leaving her in that pet store.
Really, I recommend rescue dogs first...there are so many wonderful dogs in shelters that need good, loving homes. For us, though, we knew we wanted a puppy...because a puppy (especially a gentle one like Kirby) is easier for our cats to get used to. Not threatening in size, obviously a baby. And I was right...the introduction went smoothly and the cats love her. Even Sarah, who is afraid of dogs, is not threatened by Kirby and is able to co-exist peacefully.
We also had talked about getting an extra large breed dog...and we'd recently checked the DFW area shelters for big, BIG dogs but didn't find any. That's still no excuse for buying from a pet store (adoptions at Petsmart & Petco are different...those are rescued doggies...give them good homes!)
In the end, I feel like we gave her the best home...because I honestly want to smack the person who sent a Saint Bernard to Texas. It's HOT here in the summer. What if she'd gone to a family that didn't know how to take care of her? What if she'd gone to a family that just left her out in the yard all day?
Our animals are all part of our family. And while I'm not proud of our decision to buy her from a pet store, I'm not sorry I did it...because she is a wonderful, big hearted sweetheart of a dog...and I can't imagine my life without her.
I hope y'all understand.