We’ve been a two-dog, two-kid family for over six years. (I list the dogs first because they were here first.) There’s nothing much simple about that, especially when you multiply muddy footprints by that many feet. Kids shedding winter clothing all over the kitchen floor each time they come inside—coats, hats, scarves, mittens, boots—can’t even compare with dogs shedding their winter coats all over the….well, all over the house, everywhere, every early spring. On the windows, fingerprints combine with nose prints to create opaque designs on the glass. It’s an ongoing battle to keep the house reasonably presentable. Nope….nothing simple about this many kids and dogs in a house.
And now, suddenly, we are a two-kid, one-dog family; something we’ve actually never been before. We lost our twelve-year-old Bernese Mountain dog to liver cancer three weeks ago today. My daughter has never been a huge fan of the dogs, and seems to be moving on quite nicely. (Though about two weeks after he died, she asked me “When is Basie coming back?” So she may not really grasp the situation quite yet.) My son is mourning the loss deeply, and prays specific instructions to God each night on how to take care of Basie; what the dog needs and the things he should and shouldn’t have. I myself am astounded at how a house that still has one dog in it can be so quiet; can have what feels like a large hole missing out of the middle.
Let’s look at this totally objectively: my life just got simpler. I have less fur to vacuum, less paw prints to mop, less bowls to fill with food and water, less to clean up in the yard. I will have much less time at the vet, as we will no longer be going in every month-and-a-half through spring, summer, and more recently, fall; trying to get the poor dog’s allergies under control.
Honestly, this was a dog with a messy life. Almost immediately after bringing him home from the pound, we were treating him for mange. A week after we got him, we took him in to the vets to investigate a lump on his neck, which turned out to be embedded buckshot (yes, someone had shot at the dog). But I still remember a plumber coming to our house a few months after we’d gotten Basie, walking in the front door and breaking into a huge grin. “Hey!” he exclaimed. “I know that dog!” Basie wagged enthusiastically while the plumber petted him and told me the story, how the dog used to live behind him, with his doggie-brother (who the pound had told us had been adopted a few days before); how he used to feed them, sometimes, because the owner didn’t. “It just does my heart good to see this dog so happy,” he kept repeating. After such a rough start, we definitely ended up with a happy dog.
Yes, dogs are totally messy. Even after you bathe them, they want to roll in muck. And yes, right now, my life is, objectively, very much simpler. But I’d gladly trade in simplicity, just this once, for my happy dog back.