So, this happened.
Let’s back up a month. Actually, let’s back up ten months. The loss of Bentley was (and still is) a tough one for our family. Despite our sadness, Henry and Eleanor started talking not long after about “when we get another dog…”. Andy and I assured them that we’d consider that at some point, but for now we needed a break. I mean, we still cry about Bentley on a regular basis. And with all the travel we had lined up for summer, the fewer responsibilities we had, the better.
On our last summer trip, we spent the weekend with Andy’s siblings and their pets, including four dogs. The kids, especially Eleanor, were in heaven all weekend, usually with a pet or two by their side. Hmmm…, Andy and I started thinking. I like seeing how happy Henry and Eleanor are with a dog, but I’m not sure I’m ready for one yet, I said. I’m not sure either, but I don’t want the kids to associate having a dog only with loss, Andy said. Yeah, we agree that we want our kids to grow up with a dog, we both said. But then we came home and had to immediately throw ourselves into the first week of school, so the discussion seemed over.
Until the end of that week, when Andy came home from work on Friday. “So it was crazy at work until around 3:00…and then I got on Petfinder,” Andy admitted. “Um, so I might have been thinking about dogs today, too,” I concurred.
The rest of the evening was filled with what-ifs and are-we-sure-we’re-readys and staying up past midnight combing Petfinder for possibilities. Saturday morning, we called around on some available dogs that spurred our interest, and narrowed down some shelters we wanted to visit. Andy and I decided there’d be no harm in just checking things out, to test our readiness for a new family member.
We’d told Henry and Eleanor all along that they’d be involved in any pet decisions when the time came; pet ownership was a commitment of many years and therefore would be a decision we’d all need to make together. Andy and I gave Henry and Eleanor another lecture of “we’re just looking today, we probably will come home with no dog, JUST LOOKING I REPEAT JUST LOOKING” to try to temper the DOG!DOG!DOG!!1! mode they immediately went into.
And so we spent six or seven hours that Saturday, in every corner of the city, checking out possible pooches. We met a few great ones, but none that seemed like The One. Late afternoon, we found ourselves on the same side of town as the Humane Society, and on a whim decided to end our day there.
A medium-sized, friendly-looking, 1-year-old lab/retriever mix named Reggie was the last dog that caught our eye. We took him outside to a kennel to run around and get acquainted. He was friendly to the kids and didn’t seem too bark-y. Andy seemed to have That Look on his face. “Is he giving you Dog Feelings?” I asked. “Yeah, he kinda is.” “Me, too, darnit.”
At this point it was only twenty minutes until the daily deadline to turn in adoption paperwork. Worried we’d miss out on a great dog, we took Reggie back inside and filled out our forms. Luckily when we met with the adoption counselor, she explained we could place a 24-hour hold on Reggie. Which we needed—we hadn’t expected to get a dog that day, and needed a night to prepare our house for a new arrival.
Within a minute of waking up Sunday morning, we heard Eleanor tell Henry, “let’s clean our room so Reggie doesn’t get our toys!” The kids were beyond excited, so we arrived at the Humane Society right as they opened. A few more consultations later, we walked out with our new family member. “Dogs are just terrific,” Henry remarked as we pulled out of the parking lot.
Despite Andy’s and my explanations of how you don’t have to keep the name pets come home with—like, Simon was Horace, we were not going to spend 15 years calling a cat Horace—the kids shot down all of our alternate suggestions, insisting we stick with Reggie. So officially, and somewhat reluctantly, he’s Reginald Barksdale. (And if you catch that Wire reference, well, that’s why we’re friends.)
With the exception of Millie, who just showed up and claimed us, all of our pets have come from the Humane Society. Reggie seems to continue our winning streak of adopting great shelter pets. We got him home and immediately he acted like he’d always been ours.
He’s still more of a puppy than I thought he’d be, but that means we have a dog that loves fetch and running in the yard and playing with the kids. Although the Humane Society vetted him for good behavior around cats, we were a little nervous about how well he’d do with Simon and Millie. Turns out, he looooooooves them. The cats aren’t too enamored of Reggie’s occasional attempts to play, but they’re adjusting.
And while I admit I might have not been 100% ready for a new dog, the love Henry and Eleanor show for Reggie erase any doubts. I mean, this is worth having to get back into the routine of caring for another creature:
So while Bentley is still very much loved and missed, our new guy is on his way to making a special place in our hearts and becoming a great companion to Henry and Eleanor’s childhood.