Like most kids who have no idea what it means to own an animal, mine have been lobbying for a dog for years. Of course my answer is always a resounding, "Not on your f%$#ing life!"—only when encoded in mommy speak, it's something a bit more like, "Not now, my loves, but maybe someday when the time is right!"
I'll get another butt to clean and mouth to feed when Yummy.com runs out of Ben and Jerry's at my home in less than 15 minutes. At one point when I was high on said ice cream, I allowed the conversation to veer into potential hamster territory, but the thought of my apartment smelling like soiled wood chips made me cringe. When I sobered up with some potato chips in my system, I let them know there would be no rodents or furry friends of any kind in our home.
When my last and final dog passed away when AJ was 6 months old, it was the strangest sendoff for the sidekick who had been my BFF for 13 years. With two adults in an apartment, a new baby, a 5-year-old and a dog so old she needed to be carried up and down two flights of stairs to go out for a pee, I was secretly relieved after my one day of tears. My first thought was, I'm free. My second? Never again. I have reached my limit of care-taking. This is it. No more. Nothing left. No room in my apartment, let alone my heart.
A tiny crack in my icy black heart must have thawed.
Five and a half years later, I have fully graduated from the "weird dog mom," who took her two dogs everywhere, into official animal non-lover. It was like a switch went off in me. I didn't even let my ex-boyfriend bring his dog to my place; he was too big, shed and made my floors dirty. I already feel suffocated by Legos and more energy in my place only makes me anxious.
So last week when the kids and I were on a walk, Aria pointed to a dog adoption event sign outside of Tailwaggers.
"Mommy please can we just look?"
"Sure we can look, but we are hella not getting a dog."
"Yeah, mom, we know!"
An hour later, I was driving a 12-pound dog named Boomer home to foster for the week. This little black dog is small, super cute and, most important, hypoallergenic, as in he doesn't shed. Point Boomer. The foster family apparently "just didn't show up" to take him home at the end of the event, and he "had nowhere to go."
A tiny crack in my icy black heart must have thawed, or maybe I wanted to impress my kids and prove that I am not the jerk they think I am, because for some reason still unbeknownst to me I said, "We will foster him for the week."
The week turned into two, and I extended it to three because my kids were so friggin' happy and OK, fine, I was too. He was just so cute and funny and made us laugh. And that's a big thing when mostly I'm crying on the inside all day. Could my kids be on to something? Was a dog the answer to all our stress? We were still stressed (with our 6 a.m. dog walks and cleaning shit out of a crate in the middle of the night), but somehow we were having more fun. Point Boomer.
By week three, Boomer bloomed and started to show his true personality. He was the best dog ever. I was doomed. Point Boomer. Point Kids.
But still, there were a million things to consider. And every time I did, my answer was, "No way are we keeping Boomer. This is a short-term foster only. There is no money and time for this! I simply cannot manage another living creature."
And then, we started to fall in love. And by we I mean, me. I knew deep down that this was not sustainable and I had to move on. I wrote the foster company and asked when I could take him back to find a "real" home—you know, the kind run by grown-ups and not someone masquerading as one like Yours Truly.
I tried to close my heart and forget about him, but he kept worming his way back in with his seductive, irresistible magic. Point Boomer. Point Kids. HELP!
And then, I watched my kids interact with Boomer. Really watched. I was filled with all sorts of warm fuzziness seeing how happy a two-minute cuddle with Boomer made them. They radiated pure joy and #unicornvibes!
Aria said, "If I had just five minutes of this every morning, I would have great days." Point Mother F%$#ing Boomer!
As I write, Boomer is cuddled in my lap. We officially adopted him last week. My only hope is that I don't lord Boomer over my kids on a daily basis like, "I got you a dog, now clean up your room!" I'll confess it's happened only 20 times so far.
Can I handle this new four-legged child? You know a dog is just another kid, albeit one that doesn't talk back and is way more trainable. Well, they say the universe never gives you more than you can handle, so I'll keep you posted.