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Challenge: We love our pets

The day a dog changed my life

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I was a young mom. We had four boys who were still young themselves, and life as we knew it was CRAZY. Graham, Drew, Jonah and Noah were aged seven, six, and the twins were three. I was coming out of choir practice one Wednesday night, and as soon as I stepped into the hallway and saw my husband, I knew he wanted something. Eyes narrowed, suspicions fully alerted, I asked him what was up and he smiled this big ole innocent smile at me, and I knew something was about to go down, and life as we knew it may never be the same.

He was standing with this lady we attended church with, and he told me the dog's name was Andy. He was a big boy, my hubby told me, he was three years old, and he was completely house broken and a gentle giant of a dog. He was well mannered and had gone through obedience school and even came with his own kennel and dog food container. Could we try him? Please?

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Y'all, when my husband smiles at me that evil little smile of his, I am putty in his hands. I told him a few of my millions of reasons why a dog was not good timing for our family. I was busy, I told him. The boys were not used to having an inside dog. (I had never had an inside animal, myself.) He told me he really, really wanted the boys to grow up with a dog in the family. I acquiesced and before I knew it, he was telling our friend at church that we would take him. She saw my reservation and agreed to let us "try him out".

The next day, imagine my surprise, when my husband pulled up in his truck with a kennel in the bed that was as large as the bed itself. He's a big boy, my hubby told me over the phone earlier, and he wasn't kidding. Andy the Wonder Dog, my gentle giant, was every bit one hundred and thirty pounds. He was nervous, a little skittish, as were we (or me, I should say), but we let him come in. This was when I realized that I am the kind of person that if you can get an animal into our home, that animal isn't leaving again, until the day it dies, unless it's to go for a joy ride with me or to the vet.

I fell in love with Andy almost instantly, and he felt the same way about me. The dog my husband begged for quickly became known as "mine" and would sulk and be all sad and depressed when I wasn't at home. He would stay upstairs if I was gone, and there he would remain, until I came home. He wouldn't even come down to eat. He loved the boys, and the boys loved him. His favorite thing in the world was to ride with school with me to drop the boys off, and he sure did sit in that front seat of my old Suburban. The first time we ever did that, I took a napkin to wipe the drool that kept coming out of his mouth, and I remember all the teachers laughing at me as we drove past.

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The boys did indeed grow up with Andy, and we even added a second dog eventually, one named Crash. (I'm no expert, but when a dog comes to you already named a name like that, you should FLEE. Or at least be skeptical.) Crash was a terrible puppy, and I nicknamed him Evil Knievel. (Did you know that dogs can tippy-toe? No? Me neither. I know that now, thanks to Crash, always sneaking out of his time out spot.) Andy loved having a younger "brother" around the house and for a few years, it livened him up. Andy eventually died from a neurological disease that made his body stop working. It was pitiful, and one of the worst days of my life, the day we all had to say goodbye to him. I still cry thinking about it, and have tears in my eyes, even now as I write this.

Crash was our only dog for a while (you'll be glad to know he turned into a GREAT dog), and then out of PURE GUILT, I agreed to add a(nother) dog to our home, this one a German Shepherd. We named her Callie, and she pestered the fire out of Crash, much to my delight. And then, one day in November 2017, out of sheer insanity, when my oldest son and his (then) girlfriend came downstairs asking if we could take this puppy a friend of ours rescued, I agreed. Chip came to us that same week, one day after Thanksgiving. And this little guy is Chip, and he is mine, once again. All feels right with the world, when I have a dog I can call my own, and though this little guy loves most of us, he is mine through and through. He follows me everywhere I go, and he's not perfect, but he sure is cute, despite those unfortunate ears.

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These days, life is quiet. Graham is twenty and works full time, Drew is nineteen and goes to school full time and works part time, and Jonah and Noah are sixteen and off and driving on their own. Most nights during the weekend, I am home either completely alone, or at least downstairs by myself. It helps to have these three dogs around to keep me company. I talk to them all the time, because usually my kids are all off doing their own thing, I sing to them, I kiss their little heads and rub them and I vacuum pretty much nonstop. (We had to get a Roomba to help with the dog hair.) Todd works a lot of weekend nights, and is even gone some week nights, so I am so thankful for the day I said yes to Andy the Wonder Dog. He was truly a wonder, and will forever be in my heart. I kept his little dog tag, and I have it hanging under a cross in my kitchen.

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Poor Todd, the only dog that loves him like nobody else is Crash, and I'm convinced it is because he and Drew made me decide to keep him, after I threatened to get rid of him a million times. Callie belongs to Drew, and Chip is mine, though Jonah and Todd are a close second and third place. The day something happens to Crash is the day something may happen to my husband. He loves that dog in the same way that I loved Andy.

If you're on the fence about a dog, or any other pet, for that matter, don't stay on that fence for too long. Especially if you have little ones~I cannot tell you how much having these pups enriched our lives and gave us memories to last a lifetime. Say yes! You will (almost) never be sorry.

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