what i’ve learned as a dog mom (so far)

Neville

We always had dogs growing up, and as the youngest child with only older brothers, sometimes I would say Muffin, our little gray schnauzer, was my sister. If I’d had a sister, you see, I would have wanted her to be the same age Muffin was, and I would have played Barbies with her, just as I sort of attempted to do with my dog (and in that, I mean I had a Barbie blanket that I used to tie around her head so looked like an old lady). It made me laugh and Muffin was patient, so I guess it was a win/win.

We had Muffin for a long time – until I was a teenager – and she was the stinkiest dog we ever owned, but I loved her so and was heartbroken on her last day. A few years later, my parents caved and let me get Maggie – a fluffy black shih tzu/pomeranian mix. She was this little thing of light, with happy eyes, and the tiniest bladder. For the longest time she simply could not hold in her excitement when she saw members of our family and it unfortunately came out all over the floor in yellow puddles. She liked to be right in your face, she liked to eat marshmallows, and she even had her own little recliner. She was spoiled and sweet and looked adorable wearing the little bows from PetSmart Grooming.

I moved out two years after Maggie became part of the family, so even though she was technically my dog, she was really my dad’s, and they became the best of pals. She would lay on his stomach, inch closer and closer to his face until her eyes were right in his, then she’d most likely sneeze and throw everyone into fits of laughter.

When I moved in with Travis, he wanted a cat immediately. His family never had pets, but he’d had a black cat in college named Lucifer and loved him. I hated him, mind you. He had a thing for pouncing girls and at the time, I didn’t have my own computer. I was often at Travis’ apartment using my boyfriend’s desktop and at some point during the evening, I’d always feel they eyes of the devil on me, then look down the hall to see Lucifer crouching and his tail whipping back and forth. And without fail, he always went after my feet, made me scream, and the boys laugh. So, no, I was not excited about getting a cat when I moved to Albuquerque, but Travis was just so set on it that one day we went to Animal Humane and picked up Stella, who was so scared in the car that we let her out and she pooped on me, then snuggled in my lap. And right then, I knew she belonged with us.

I plan to write a whole post on Stella, because she turned out to be wonderful, and stubborn, and funny, and sweet. But right now I’m just so excited to tell you about the newest addition to our family, that Stella’s post will have to wait (I suppose I’m fickle). And since we’re already five paragraphs in and I have no idea if you’re still reading, I’ll just get right to it. I want to tell you what I’ve learned from having a dog for just a little over a week. Granted, I’ve been around dogs all my life, but I never had one that my parents didn’t do A LOT (or should I say most?) of the work (thanks, guys!).

  1. Name your pet after one of your favorite fictional characters, and it will make you happy every time you call for him. We picked Neville Wigglebottom based on Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter. This has led to all kinds of jokes like whether he’s a Gryffindog or a Hufflepup, how we have our own Padfoot now, and how his bed will be the Cushion of the Phoenix. I already have a photo planned in my head where Neville looks mischievous and the caption will say, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” We are nerds for sure, but so is Neville in the books, so it fits. Plus, Neville is actually this really strong, loyal, sweet character, and so is our dog.
  2. I am a crazy dog mom. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve shown Neville’s picture to! Ask about our dog, and expect to have me whip out my phone and show him to you!
  3. Sunrises are the bees knees. We’ve been walking Neville before work most days and it’s so wonderful to see the pink clouds and the way the neighborhood is slightly blue, and golden yellow as the sun wakes up the world. I’m not naturally a morning person, but there is definitely beauty, quiet, and peace in it. Time seems to move slower in the early hours.
  4. Rescue dogs are amazing. We got Neville from Boxer Rescue of Albuquerque and I’ve never had a dog that was so easy right from the beginning. Growing up, we always got puppies so we had to teach them everything. Neville came housebroken, already knew how to sit, and doesn’t pull on his leash. Granted, not all rescue dogs will be trained, but I think most of them come with really huge hearts and the simple longing for love and permanent homes.
  5. Some dogs snore. And Neville happens to be one of them. He also sounds like a pig when he gets excited sometimes. He’s nuts.
  6. Dogs look good in pictures. And if you love taking pictures, but your husband doesn’t love being in them, you’ve got a great new subject to capture.
  7. If dogs and cats can get along, then people should be able to get along with people. Stella was our priority, so if Neville hated her, we couldn’t keep him. This was my biggest worry, and since I became attached on day one, I really hoped it would work out. And it did! I learned that Neville has more willpower than some people. When he can’t quite take Stella being a cat and doing cat things, he’ll sometimes stand up and walk away for 10 seconds. I think sometimes it takes everything in him not to get in her face and see if she wants to play. But he succeeds 90 percent of the time and gets better each day! I wish people could be more this way sometimes – that we could see where we are weak, and where we struggle with those who are different than us, and that we’d take 10-second breathers, and try again. We learned this in kindergarten after all, right?
  8. This happened because people worked together. We don’t know Neville’s whole story or the exact reason he ended up with Boxer Rescue. We do know that he’s been shuffled around to different families a few times in the last few months because of various circumstances that simply didn’t work out. It was after few families fostered him and some volunteers connected all of us together that he ended up with us. I’m so thankful for all of those people! I realize this is the case with pretty much everything in life; everything I have is because of the kindness of others (someone built our house, someone gave Travis and I jobs, someone grew the food we eat), and our experience with adopting Neville was a reminder to be thankful for that.
  9. Life as we know it will never be the same. So long sleeping in until 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays! We have a dog who needs to poop!
I solemnly swear that I'm up to no good. I couldn't resist!

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”
I couldn’t resist!

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