My childhood dog was Lolly, an Australian Shepard. My mom and I fell in love with her at the pet shop. She was a small, white, puff of fur, soft and cuddly. My best friends and I loved skateboarding with our dogs, they would pull us. With three of us, we eventually got the dogs leashes tangled and we went so fast; we had to ride into the grass to stop ourselves and our dogs. One of my friend’s dogs was Puka, a beautiful, blue eyed, Siberian Husky, and my other friend’s dog was Pepper, some sort of fluffy, black Terrier.
When I lived alone in Costa Rica, my Costa Rican friend gave me an adorable Cocker Spaniel puppy, who was too much of a handful for him. I named him Indy. He had auburn hair and cute, floppy ears, and he chewed on everything, my arm, the furniture… Thankfully my friend in California sent me “The Art of Raising a Puppy”, by the Monks of New Skete, which helped me train Indy to stop the chewing.
At that time, I lived in Santa Ana, Costa Rica, right across the street from Habitat for Humanity’s Latin American Headquarters, where I worked. This allowed me to walk Indy frequently and even take him to the office. There he squirmed around at my feet, his leash attached to my chair. Our first walks were short. We left the house and walked down the long dirt drive. Next, we headed left where we saw our large fury neighbor, the cow. Indy was terrified. I had to carry him home several times.
Eventually Indy and I moved to Georgia, where I worked for Habitat for Humanity International and met my hubbie. As Indy aged he was still adorable, but he became crotchety, as apparently some Cockers do. He started nipping at my friends. So, we gave him anxiety medicine and warned friends to be cautious around him.
When we got married we had two dogs: Indy and Lucy. My husband’s dog, Lucy was a lovely, Lab-Chow mix. Indy and Lucy were our babies for a while, good practice for babies later. When we had our oldest daughter, I didn’t anticipate having a cranky Cocker and a shy Lab-chow but, there we were. Lucy was gentle and kid friendly and Indy wasn’t. Everything I read about dogs and kids said never leave a dog alone with a child, so we didn’t. That took some work, we got dog gates and that helped. We often shut the dogs up in the kitchen, while our daughter played in the living room.
In the early days everyone needed a walk. Our daughter loved being in her stroller, I liked walking for exercise and the dogs did too. I hadn’t thought about how very difficult it is to walk, pushing a stroller, while holding two dogs. Sometimes I announced to my husband when he got home from work, “I managed to walk the dogs today!” Mostly though, the dogs didn’t get walked regularly. I did manage to walk for more than an hour sometimes though, pushing the stroller with my napping child snuggled within, sans dogs.
After Indy died and then a few years later Lucy passed away, the house was too quiet. So, my oldest daughter and I went on a quest to find a new dog. We searched the internet, falling in love with so many dogs pictured on pet adoption websites. On Mother’s Day, 2016, we went to Petsmart for their adopt a dog day. We met many cute dogs, one of which was a medium sized dog we had seen on the website. She was a little hyper in person though and we thought: “Hmm, we already have a very energetic four- year-old child, do we want a super energetic dog?” The answer was no. Then we spotted Rocky, a large, floppy eared, Tree Walking Coon Hound. He was bigger than we had anticipated our next dog would be, but he was calm. Also, he got along well with our four-year-old. So, on Mother’s Day, I became a mom again.
The kids love Rocky, who is snuggly and likes hugs. They can lie on his belly and pat him and he enjoys it. He even tolerates play, when he has had enough. Unfortunately, he still thinks he is a puppy, although he is four years old. Also, he chews things: pillows, shoes, stuffed animals, books, magazines, and an occasional sandwich – yikes. We are still learning to put things away and out of reach of him.
The girls like helping to take care of Rocky: feeding him and taking him for walks sometimes. It is relaxing to sit with him and to pat his soft fur, especially his silky ears. It is a relief to have a dog with such a calm disposition. I don’t worry about him being around the girls. Now that our youngest is six, I let her play with him on her own. She likes to pretend to read books to him. I think dogs and kids are a good combination. Especially when you find a gentle dog who likes your kids. We look forward to many more years of fun with Rocky.