Friday, August 27, 2010

"When a dog runs at you, whistle for him."

I need to admit that this post has weighed heavy on my heart for months. So heavy in fact, that I could not write it until our recent trip.

I love dogs. I love all animals; I think they are beautiful testaments of our Heavenly Father's existence, but above other animals, I love dogs. To be truthful, my immediate reaction towards people who don't love dogs is mistrust. (Which is troublesome in my Thoreau love...I know he didn't keep a dog, but I can't help but imagine him circling Walden Pond each morning with a hound lumbering at his side.) 

Many people who know me don't quite understand my love for our two canines--Titan and Zucchini. They are the same breed, pugs, but remarkably opposite in nature. The first, mild tempered, sleepy and portly: 

The latter, mostly insane, hyperactive, ornery and playful:

When I was pregnant, I was constantly infuriated by the comments people made to my dogs, beloved members of my family ("Oh, no...soon as baby comes, it's to the pound for you.") or to me ("You know when baby arrives, you're going to hate those dogs.") 

Other moms probably judge harshly my opinions about keeping dogs as pets: that if a child picks on your dog, she probably deserves to be bit; that if your dog is making you crazy, it's probably your fault and not his; that pets give us far more than we actually give them--companionship, absolute faithfulness, warm feet--; and that our children need pets to bless their lives with the elusive understandings every parent wants them to pick up--responsibility, kindness, empathy, loss. 

But I love my dogs in a ferocious sort of way. So much so, that when I was offered the job at the University where I now live and work--the job that was perhaps the most tangible answer to prayer we had ever received--, the only reason I stopped in fear was that I knew we'd be unable to keep my pugs with me as part of my home. My daughter would feel their absence, and my son, so young at the move, would never know their presence. This, though baffling to most of the people around me, was nothing short of devastating. 

When we packed up and left for Idaho, we filled the cars to the absolute max. Days of planning and diagramming on the Mister's part meant airtight packing (one of his unique talents!). There remained in all our belongings, literally, only enough space for the bodies going on the trip. As we finished our final preparations, and prepared to leave on that December morning, the pugs knew something was up. They followed us exactly at our heels--much closer than usual--they broke my heart with their bulging, sad, watery eyes. And finally, as we prepared to get in our body-hugging seats, I found these sweet creatures had lept into the only space they could find in their angst: 

(Okay...TELL me that doesn't break your heart.)  

Thankfully, in this time there were a few people who understood me--the selfless and amazing friends I had made while volunteering for the Arizona Pug Rescue and Adoption Network (APARN), one of the largest pug rescues in the nation. In the midst of people telling me to simply say goodbye to my dears, abandon them, or sell them, several wonderful women came out of the woodwork and offered to keep my pugs for me "until." Even though we didn't know how long that "until" would last, these women understood that Titan and Zucchi were my first babies, and I couldn't just send them off like all the old belongings we were shedding. So my sweet old man and my crazy girl, Titan and Zucchini, went off to live with Laura, who probably gave them more attention and care than we could! 

The image of my pugs begging me not to leave them left me in tears for months. I wanted them to understand that I hadn't left them forever, that "someday" they would be back in our home, and always in our hearts. I wanted to make them see that they are still our family--pictures in our home and names spoken at our dinner table. I missed them snuggled up to me in my bed, I missed their devotion to my human babies. I missed them so much that even Laura's gracious emails about how well they were doing caused me to burst into sobs. This lasted 8 long months, "until"...

"Until" finally came on our trip to Phoenix, when our whole family re-united. The Mister's sister and husband, having just bought their first home only 3 hours from us, had offered to keep them for us until the next "until." We spent three weeks with them--they barely left my side. I crocheted and read with one under each arm, slept with a pug curled up on each side, and spent my time telling them how much we had missed them. We traveled north with them, gave them many hugs and kisses and left them again, nearer, but still far enough it hurts a bit. We get to see them regularly, and in my heart, I hope that they know that this next place, another unknown, is not about uncertainty, but about certainty...about always keeping them as part of our family, as part of our lives, as near as possible, until the next "until." 


  1. I now share your love with the furkids and thank you all for letting us share in their lives for 8 months. They are truly a gift!

  2. This was one of the best posts I have ever read! Your pictures are astounding and the words you use to describe things are amazing! You are so talented and I hope your "until" comes soon :)

  3. You are a gifted photographer and storyteller. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. I came across your blog from MMB. Your post left tears in my eyes. I hope you have your next "until" soon. This is how we feel about our cats. We recently moved, and had to find a place that took our cats. We were having a hard time, and people would say things like "can't you just dump your cats with someone?" or "why don't you just get rid of them?" I understand you!

  5. AWh, I am not a dog fan, but that was the sweetest post. What a good person you are. :)

  6. Beautiful photos, very entertaining. I'm not a dog fanatic either, but this almost converts me.

  7. What a tender post. wow. didn't expect to get teary over pooches.

  8. Okay. Now I AM CRYING!!!


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