Sarah: It took more than a year of cajoling, pleading and gathering of evidence from my tween daughter to convince me that our family needed a dog RIGHT NOW.
Don’t get me wrong: dogs were always a part of my life growing up, and I knew we’d get one eventually.
But having survived 10-plus years of night wakings, food messes and various secretions and projectiles from the bodily orifices of 3 children, the thought of another creature to care for in the immediate future was a very slow burn on my behalf.
The fact that my third child was inclined towards wheezing and itching in the company of my parents’ labrador was another stumbling block.
There was a lot of research. There was a lot of lifestyle examination. There was a lot of self reflection.
There were tears and teeth grinding.
Still, in December 2015, we took the plunge.
A chocolate labradoodle (with tight curls that did not shed) arrived, and we called him Raffy.
To say that our house is 100 percent more chaotic with Raffy in it would be an understatement.
He’s loud, he’s demanding, he is inclined to anxiety, he needs a lot of exercise, and he hassles my youngest son to play with him for every living minute that both are inside the house. If I focussed on these aspects alone, I would regret the decision to own a dog.
And yet there’s so much more.
Of course, my daughter is infatuated with him. She’s still blown away by his presence:
“I just can’t believe we have this little furry creature living in our house!”
She’s grown in her already considerable kindness and patience, teaching him many tricks and putting up with his thieving tendencies. He also provides a companion for her walks to seek hot chocolate from the local bakery. For her, he is pure joy.
Once fearful of dogs, both my boys are also obsessed with Raffy and indeed most other puppies we meet whilst out and about. They truely delight in the different breeds and personalities that we encounter.
To be greeted by Raffy after a school is the best part of their day.
When the puppy has sleepovers with grandparents, they miss him terribly.
My husband and I have started walking the dog together every morning, a great opportunity to chew the fat and catch up on each other’s work issues and other adult matters that can’t be aired during dinnertime family discussions.
Working from home, I walk him several additional times each day. It sounds like such a time-waster, but I plug in my headphones and make phone-calls and listen to podcasts whilst out and about. The perfect opportunity to lose my inner smart-arse.
We’ve all learnt that Raffy has his own personality, that there things he does not like and that actually it’s not within our power to change him. Raffy is Raffy: all we can do is teach him basic manners, love him and live as a family.
In our family, we love our humans because that’s our destiny. It’s the way it is.
But Raffy we choose to love. And that’s been a big step for us. A valuable step.