we nailed it

For months our younger daughter had wanted a dog. She pleaded, cajoled, begged, cried, and bargained. She even wrote us a letter detailing the many reasons she ought to have a puppy. A husky, she said. I want a husky.

No, we said. We already have two dogs. Dogs are expensive. You don’t have sufficient income to pay for a canine friend. So no. No way, no how, no.

Nevertheless, she persisted. Number one on her birthday wishlist: Puppy.

“Hon,” I said. “You gotta to be practical. Ask for reasonable things. Items within our budget. A dog just isn’t happening, you know.”

“I know,” she said, but she left the list as it was.

And then, about two weeks before her birthday, a bizarre thought occurred to me: Why not?

It wouldn’t be a husky, that was for sure. Or any purebred, for that matter. But a puppy wasn’t an outrageous proposition. We could draw on the funds reserved for the farm. She had enough money in the bank to pay to get the pup fixed, and as she got older she’d have more earning power.

So I started searching—the SPCA, the paper, the pet shop, craigslist—and then, one week before her birthday, a friend sent me a snapshot of an ad: collie-lab pups. The very next day, my husband and I dropped the kids at my parents and went to investigate. The pups’ father was a purebred boarder collie and the mother was a golden lab-golden retriever mix. I picked out the smallest and quietest of the four females, and then we returned home. All week long I was beside myself with excitement. Worry, too. What if she didn’t like the puppy? It wasn’t a husky, after all.

Her birthday morning, my husband picked up the puppy and dropped it off at my brother’s house. Back home, we ate chef salads and chips, drank rosa de jamaica, blew out the candles on the ice cream cake, and then gathered in the living room to open presents.

Just as our daughter started opening her next-to-last gift, my husband’s cell rang (because he made it ring). After a brief (fake) one-sided conversation, he announced that my brother needed help—there was a leak!—and tore out the door.

“Do you want us to wait for you?” I hollered after him. “Can she finish opening this gift?” But he was gone.

She finished opening the box—a bike helmet—but I wouldn’t let her open the last little package (a dog leash). “We’ll finish when Papa gets back,” I said. The kids and I lounged around in the living room, sampling her licorice and admiring the gifts, killing time. I was on pins and needles.

Finally, through the window, I saw my husband pull in the drive. To my older son, I whispered, “Get your camera out,” and to my younger daughter I snapped, “Cover your eyes.”

When my husband walked into the room, the 10-week-old pup cradled in his arms, the kids froze—eyes wide, mouths a-gape—comprehension slowly dawning. Someone gave a strangled squeal. My husband set the pup in my daughter’s lap. It was like he flipped a switch. Instantly she was sobbing, her face buried in the pup’s fur.

Alice, for that’s what my daughter has named the pup (after a book character), is delightfully gentle and sweet-tempered. She travels well, too, we learned when we took her on a day-trip to PA. She spent the eight hours curled up on the back seat or in someone’s lap, sleeping the hours away, and, just by being cute, cozy, and sleepy, she kept the kids from fighting overly much. (Basically, she’s a service dog for my rugrats.)

I think we nailed it.

This same time, years previous: dusty magic, the quotidian (3.2.15), coffee cooperative, leap year baby, potatoes and onions, and red raspberry rhubarb pie.


  • Athanasia

    Such a happy story! We have 2 dogs now, Freya a German shepherd and Lulu a little mixup. They were both shelter/rescue dogs. We've always have dogs and cats though the cats prefer to live out in the barn with the animals. Everyone of them is spayed or neutered.

  • Becky

    So sweet! We went through a similar thing here with our girl – she begged and pleaded for a dog for the longest time. I insisted that as a cat person, I was NOT going to take care of this dog, that if we got one, it would be her responsibility. She spent months looking online when I finally caved and we ended up adopting our beagle from the Harrisonburg SPCA. My girl does a great job of taking care of the dog and even I must admit, she found us the perfect dog.
    And I seem to keep spending my secret shoe fund on that dog. She may be a bit spoiled – way more than the kid.

  • Kathy Gardner

    I honestly had tears in my eyes reading this. I am so glad you decided to get that dog for your daughter. I know there is expense involved but the animals give so much more than we spend on them. Your daughter will learn new responsibilities. It is a learning experience for her so it is educational. It made my day to read about this puppy finding a home with your family.

  • Karen Sue

    We have one full bred border collie and one that is half border collie and part yellow lab? and something else. They are both very good company. Sometimes you find a dog and sometimes a dog finds you…congrats!

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