There is nothing quite like the love and companionship human beings share with their beloved pets.
I spent ten years contemplating the idea of welcoming a family pet into our household. For five of those years, my sons begged my husband and I for a pet — any pet. A dog was at the top of their list, but a cat, hamster or goldfish would do. At one point, they caught a grasshopper in the backyard and named it Carl.
Their efforts didn’t go unnoticed. But I shelved the idea of adding a fur baby to the mix every time I considered our jam-packed schedule. Both my sons play competitive sports year-round. Their schedule has us running from place to place most nights and weekends. I couldn’t wrap my mind around adding one more responsibility.
Every time I dove down the rabbit hole to make our dream a reality, I’d get a heavy dose of mom guilt for our future pet. I mean, who would look after Steve the cat or Richard the dog — yes, we already had names picked out — when we were on the road?
My husband was the toughest resister. We all knew that the load of caring for a pet would ultimately be mine, by some weird default of being the mom. But my husband had a lot to say about the sheer lunacy of adding more responsibility to this busy stage of life.
One day, everything changed. Our good friends next door were also caught in the endless loop of indecision around dog adoption — until they took a leap of faith and came home with a sweet rescue from Mexico. Our neighbor’s mom fosters dogs from the rescue center and helps find them their forever homes.
The pressure to get our own dog was instantly amped up. Did we have what it took to become a forever home? Especially when we were never home?
I watched from the sidelines for a couple of months, and noticed all of our kids were outside a lot more. They were excited to tag along with our friends on their daily dog walks. I started to think, maybe this isn’t such a bad idea after all. Maybe, just maybe, bringing a dog home would be the very best thing for my entire family — mom and dad included.
I decided to meet our potential dog in secret. I didn’t tell my husband or kids. I know that sounds sneaky. It was. But if we were going to do this — and my heart was now set — we had to find the right dog.
I met Annie for the first time at a dog park. She was a nervous Nellie, prone to the shakes. But as soon as she and I locked eyes, she hopped up on my lap, looking for safety. In that moment, I knew she was meant for us. She would require a lot of love and a gentle touch, and that’s exactly what we would give her.
I brought her home to surprise our family a year ago. They were over-the-moon happy, and still are. In fact, Annie seems to spread a little happiness wherever she goes — which is everywhere, since she’s our enthusiastic road-trip companion for every ball game, hockey tournament and family visit.
She has expanded love in our household more than I knew was possible. When the boys get home from school, the first thing they do is seek out Annie for a snuggle and love fest. Every night before bed, Annie patiently snuggles each of my sons before she settles in with my husband and I for the night. Annie is pure love, and she shares it freely and unconditionally. She has helped each of us learn to do the same.
While Annie is most attached to me and has become my best little friend and companion, each member of our household works hard and believes they are her number two. This includes my once-doubting husband, who adores Annie like she’s his very own ‘dog-ter’ (his pun, not mine).
I share this story not just to brag about our dearest Annie, even if she is the best dog to ever wag a tail. I share this story as a reminder to follow your gut: to say yes to things that spur new experiences and expand the love in your life.
So many of us waste precious moments by fearing and doubting the best gifts life has to offer: not just the love we share with our pets, but all the new experiences that come when we stop resisting unknowns and instead jump in with both feet. When we trust we’ll end up where we are meant to land.
Ten years ago, I knew in my heart that a pet would be a wonderful way for my family to build empathy, compassion and love — but I got caught up in the logistics of how I could make it all work out perfectly in my mind.
I needn’t have worried. I work from home, and most days Annie is happily curled up beside me. We take regular breaks for walks and fresh air. She has added joy to my work day. She has added joy to our hockey trips, our days at the ball field, our walks to school and our bedtime snuggle routine. She has helped us get outside for more family walks, talks and fresh air.
Saying yes to the big unknown of dog adoption has renewed my belief that life is better when we jump in fully and try new things. Now, when I sense something will leave a big question mark on my heart if I don’t at least give it a try, that’s my cue to dive in.
What about you? What are you ready to say yes to?
Article originally published on emilymadill.com
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