Mrs. Gore’s Random Thoughts on Dog Ownership

Here it is, one week into our new lives as pet people, and I am feeling the need to gather my thoughts on all things puppy.

In no particular oder.

Oops. “In no particular order” I meant to say.

1. But, speaking of oder…er, odor…puppies stink! I suppose it has something to do with my hypersensitive pregnancy nose, but gosh a’mighty, everything in our house smells like a puppy now. The puppy’s sunroom (which will ONLY be the case until said puppy is mature enough to live safely in the great outdoors ), my children, my children’s clothes, my children’s hands, my children’s hair, my sunroom curtains, my tiny nostril hairs, and, of course, the puppy.

2. A week before Jake was ready to join us, his owner said that she would be working on his whining at night. I reassured her not to worry, that he would fit in perfectly around this joint. As if he could get a word – or bark – in edgewise. And I was right – he fit right into the chaos that was already here.

3. It was fascinating to observe the initial reactions from each of my family members concerning Jake the Pup. Mr. Gore was like a kid at Christmas, finally reunited with one of his true loves, dog ownership. Gideon (the “master” of the dog) was just dazed with happiness and disbelief. May he never forget that day! Betsie was sort of manically excited and standoffish at the same time, petting him and running from him in the the same 5 seconds. And then there was Miss Sunday. Talking nonstop. Making lists of what we need for the dog (including a brush for his hair). Deciding when the dog will be ready to go hunting. And basically knowing everything there is to know about what it takes to bring up a puppy in this world. And me? As Betsie would say, I was “skerred”. Please, God, keep this puppy safe for us and don’t let it poop on my floor, Amen.

 4. Five minutes after we presented Gideon with his “life day” puppy, I turned to Mr. Gore and jokingly said, “Okay, I got my pictures and had my moment. We can get rid of the puppy now!” Because it was at exactly that moment that the doubts set in. “What were we thinking?!”… 

5. And so I was EXTREMELY relieved to wake up the next morning to a word of encouragement from one of my sweet readers: “Others may have said this already, but you need to know one thing about getting a puppy: for the first couple weeks you will think it was a huge mistake. You’ll second guess it and think “what have we done?!” But believe me, once that phase passes, and it will, you’ll recognize that you’ve been blessed beyond what you ever hoped for by the love and companionship of this most wonderful little creature. Trust me.” For the record, no one had yet told me that, but I needed to hear it. I get it now! It’s just like bringing home a baby.

6. Speaking of baby, I think the puppy might be stealing some of my mommy instincts that should be reserved for the infant who will be joining us in the very near future. I’m sleeping lightly, I’m paranoid that something will happen to him, I tiptoe through the house when he is napping, and I can’t tell you how many times I have peered into the sunroom to make sure little Jakey-poo is still breathing. And then I have to remind myself…this is a dog. Not the baby. Baby isn’t here yet.

7. If you are having trouble making it through the long “dog days of summer” (sorry…couldn’t resist!) without allowing your children to watch endless television, invest in a puppy. We’ve not only had the TV off for nearly a week, I have barely seen my kids since Jake joined our family. They are obsessed.

8. Except for Betsie, who has gone from manically excited by the dog to terrified. The poor girl doesn’t realize that he singles her out because she is so low to the ground. She was sitting down on the floor the other day and he came to inspect her…she was SO frightened, she couldn’t even spare the time to stand up and started crawling as fast as she could, screaming bloody murder. Which only made the puppy run alongside her, causing her to somehow scream louder and just freeze up in trembling terror…but I have to admit, my humor was at odds with my compassion. Sad, yes. Funny? Also yes. He’s so little! But then, I guess, so is our skinny Pinky girl.

9. Forgive me, but I’m not really an animal lover. I admire them, I think they’re pretty, I see the handiwork of God when I look at them, but they’ve never really gone beyond my mind and reached down into my heart like, say, a person does. We always had dogs and cats growing up, but they sort of blended in with our outdoor country scene, and, though sad when they died, I didn’t really weep or allow their respective deaths to interfere with my appetite. But Jake the puppy? He belongs to my firstborn son. And if you lay a finger on him, I will cut you.

10. You won’t believe this, but I finally found a use for my teensy-tiny Lodge mini skillets. They are just Jake’s size. So I’m super glad that my Christmas gift last year is being spent on a dog

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(but I have to admit, that’s awfully cute).

11. Lastly…a week has passed, and though it has set me back in my preparations for homeschool and bringing home a new baby, the words of encouragement from the above reader are ringing true already. Jake has been worth it. I shared the following on my Facebook page last week:

So I spent the entire morning keeping our puppy alive. He COMPLETELY keeps the kids distracted and happy, but I’m too afraid to leave him alone with them just yet…

Thus the house is a WRECK and I just took 10 steps backwards in any progress I’ve made to prepare our home for baby #4.

But on the other hand, from my kids’ point of view, this is what childhood is supposed to look like, right? Running through the house, barefoot, with a puppy on your heels? Spending hours on the front porch with your family, making the acquaintance of your newest member?

I may not have things as I would personally prefer them at the moment (i.e. clean and tidy), but I’m thinking Norman Rockwell would find plenty of beauty and inspiration in our chaos…

and so I will too.

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Now if you’ll excuse me, while Jake is resting on the front porch and the kids are with their Papa, I’m going to go mop and disinfect my sunroom.

(Again).

Gideon’s “Life Day” and a Puppy Named Jake (Part Two)

To read more about “Life Day” and the backstory to these photos, see Part One

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Should I go ahead and add this day to the “Top Ten Memories” file in my brain?

Yeah, I think so, too…

After spending Sunday night and all day Monday with his sisters at Grandmother and Granddaddy’s house, my parents dropped Gideon off at our shed and went driving around with the girls so we could have a moment alone with our son.

And our photographer friend.

(Told you I have a sickness).

It was a sweet reunion. Gideon was simply happy to be home. We, on the other hand, were about to burst with excitement!

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“Why can’t we go inside the house?” he kept asking.

“Just because…” I kept hedging.

Finally, we sat down with him and Mr. Gore explained all about his “life day” and that we were celebrating the gift of Gideon with a special surprise.

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Gideon likes surprises.

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We prayed and thanked God for our boy, and I somehow managed to keep from bawling like a baby…

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And then it was time for the blindfold. We wanted the puppy to be a secret until the very last minute…

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My  job was to keep him from peeking and to make SURE he couldn’t see!

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Almost there…

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Before we took his blindfold off, we let him feel his gift to see if he could guess what it was. Our calm little doggy kept so still and quiet. Good boy!

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Gideon told me later that he thought it was a stuffed animal. He still had no idea what was on the other side of that blindfold…

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When we took the blindfold off, he was, in a word, dazed. As a 4 -year-old, I distinctly remember him asking as he surveyed a pasture full of cattle, “Why did God make all these animals and not give me any?” This boy has been waiting a LONG time for a pet of his own…

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I noticed when I looked back at the pictures that his little cheeks were flushed with excitement (be still, my heart)…

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and for sure his “eyes were waterin'”.

Gideon’s eyes water a lot. He gets that from me.

p.s. I love this picture. (and all the ones after it).

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“What do you want to name him?” we asked, gently recommending the name ‘Huckleberry’, the name of his first stuffed animal, a little white puppy from FAO Schwarz, or ‘Jake’, his most favorite name for as long as we can remember.

“Jake” he said, confidently.

Even though we were secretly rooting for Huckleberry, we were pretty happy with that, especially since “Thunderfire” is his second favorite name.

In retrospect, I don’t think I can fully express how fulfilling it was to watch my son receive this gift. What a joy it is to care for someone so deeply, to know their deepest wishes, to understand their heart like no one else, and to bless them accordingly…

and so I think that experiencing this day with Gideon brought me a little bit closer to the heart of God; how our Heavenly Father must love us! We don’t give Him enough credit in our crowded, complicated, grown-up worlds.

So that just left one last thing…

After giving Gideon a moment to get acquainted with new best friend, we called my parents and told them to come back to the house. Gideon and Jake hid in the shed so he could surprise his sisters with our newest family member.

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“Close your eyes!” we told them, “Gideon has a surprise for you…”

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(Betsie ALWAYS peeks).

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I’ve never seen the whole lot of them so excited about something. It was a full-out dog party in our yard, and our household has consequently been abuzz for DAYS…

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I have so much more to talk about concerning pet ownership, about the similarities between puppies and babies, about how this little pup has stolen our hearts, but for now, I’ll just leave it at this…

Welcome to our family, Jake.

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We’ve been waiting for you for a very long time.

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I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge Benjamin Grey Photography once more for these precious, precious pictures. What a gift it is to have talented and generous friends who will wake up early to minister to your family before a long night working the late shift. You blessed our hearts, Ben and Leslie, more than you’ll ever know. Thank you.

And special thanks to the sweet family who sold us this puppy and took such good care of him for us. You were a joy to work with! (and our daughter has already put in a request for a GIRL puppy on her 6th “life day”…)

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Surprising a boy