Just before the Husband’s third year of law school, our landlord decided to convert our inexpensive, yet charming, perfectly located apartments into condos. Needless to say, they did not care that I had planned for us to live there, in that perfect location at that perfect price, until the Husband was out of law school and we could afford to buy a house. No, no, they would not renew our lease.
After a few hours of sheer horror at the prospect of moving, I had a revelation: we would rent a house with a fence and we would get a dog!
I had never had a dog, but I had developed a friendship with my sister-in-law’s Chihuahua, and I had heard many stories about Sissy, a Chihuahua mutt the Husband had grown up with (may God rest her little doggie soul). And so, on my whim, we decided to become dog owners.
During the next week, any time I’d get stressed about moving, the Husband would tap his fingernails on a hard surface, reminding me that soon we would enjoy the rap, tap, tap of our new puppy’s nails as she scurried across hardwood floors. The house we eventually rented had no hardwood floors, but we loved its big fenced-in yard.
One of the most illogical things the Husband and I have ever done is rent a moving truck, park it, and then drive to Central Kentucky (four hours round trip!) to pick up a puppy the night before we moved into our rental house. We met the Chihuahua breeder at a Taco Bell of all places. The Husband kept saying “Remember Jaelithe, if the dog looks sick, we’ll say no thanks and get the hell out of here.”
Thankfully, she was one healthy pup. I’ll never forget the love that surged through my chest the moment I first saw her. She was teeny-tiny and panting, her long pink tongue dangling below eyes that were way too big for her head. (It would take some time for her to grow into those huge, buggy eyes!) I had known in advance her coat was chocolate brown and had planned on calling her Cocoa, but somehow we decided to name her Chloe. She would have many nicknames over the years including (but certainly not limited to) Puppy, Doggins, Puppy-Doggins, Meatball, Tiny Dancer, Boo, Moo, Chlo-Bobbins, Chlo-Bobs, Chlo-Meister, Noodles, Doodles, Doodle-Bug, Do-Bubs...With the exception of Meatball, I’m pretty sure I came up with all these names. More often than not, the Husband calls her Chloe. In the blogosphere, I will call her the Doodles.
The Husband is always trying to remind me that the Doodles is “just a dog,” but she’s more than that to me. She was our first baby, the first living thing we parented together, and the first creature to compel me to refer to us as “Mommy” and “Daddy.”
“I’m not that dog’s Daddy,” the Husband says, which I can respect; however, I am her Mommy.
Ever since we had a human baby, I have tried (with varying degrees of success) to maintain my bond with the Doodles. She came into my life when I was dealing with a lot of anxiety about the possibility of parenthood, and if it weren’t for her, I’m not sure I would have been able to make the leap to parenting a real baby. I’m grateful for her companionship and the many things she has (unwittingly) taught me.
Perhaps the most important lesson gleaned from my life with the Doodles is this: as a parent, you need to love your “child” for who she is, not for who you hope and dream she will be. In the beginning, I tried to take the Doodles on walks, but she really, really hated them. (The other dogs in the neighborhood stressed her out to the max!) I kept hoping she would adjust, but eventually I realized our walks were creating major stress in her life, all because of something I wanted -- that she clearly did not want! Now whenever I go for a walk, the Doodles stays at home.
Another hope and dream for my little doggie child was fashion. I loved to dress up the Doodles, and in the beginning she had an adorable little wardrobe (complete with doggie-sized hangers!) but she absolutely hated wearing clothes. In time it became clear that regardless of how I felt about tiny dogs in clothes, the Doodles was happiest in her own fur.
A few more things about the Doodles: she likes cigarette butts, eats whatever rot she can find in our back yard, and sleeps about 23 hours a day. Now that I have left the workplace to stay home and chase after a toddler, I have discovered that the Doodles can very often annoy the crap out of me, but I still love her just the way she is.