Sunday, June 6, 2010

Of Dogs and Kids...

I like dogs, but I don't love having them in my house because they are dirty and messy and hairy and I like things neat, tidy and hair-free. We had a dog when we were newly married and pet ownership wasn't a good fit for me. I was overrun by babies and adding one more permanent toddler that never grows up to the mix was too much for me to handle. When we decided to get Dusty, our current dog, it was a big decision for me and one I didn't make lightly. She stole our hearts immediately and her adorable face has gotten her out of a lot of trouble in the past two years... She just might be the best dog on the face of the earth, or at least the best dog on the face of the earth for our family.

I have my days where as Boston Rob from Survivor would say, "I have a case of cry-baby-itis" and whine and complain about how much work Dusty generates and how sick and tired I am of being the only one who picks up poop blah blah blah, but in reality, I love Dusty. She brings so much fun, joy and entertainment to our family and it's hard to remember what life was like before we adopted her.

We're a guardian home for our breeder, Springcreek Labradoodles (scroll down to see Dusty's profile) and we were all waiting with baited breath for her to have a heat cycle so she could start her breeding days. Of course because Curt's gone and it's my turn to "check for signs of heat" she came into heat yesterday. So on this rainy Sunday, the kids, Dusty and I piled into the van after church and made the trek to Pleasant Hill (doesn't that sound inviting?), Oregon, to drop her off.

We stayed for an hour to get Dusty acclimated for her two week stay at the farm and to stretch our legs from the 2 hour drive down before we piled in the van to head home another two hours. I milked the gas tank down to 8 miles until empty before we stopped in Salem for gas and for dinner. The kids chose Denny's (UGH!) and literally ate every last bite of food on their plates. I even busted Grant drinking his syrup which I thought was absolutely hilarious even though I tried to give him my stern "no" face. The kids behaved beautifully on both car rides and in the restaurant and I praised them up and down for being so stellar and awesome. I've had trips to the grocery store that were much more painful than our four hours in the car and one hour in the big booth at Denny's. Way to rock it Stilp kids!

We got home and realized someone left the refrigerator cracked open the entire six hours we were gone and the internal temp was up to 51 degrees! I left a load of laundry in the washer from this morning and the whole thing smelled nice and musty twelve hours later. The toy room was a disaster from play mania that didn't get picked up before bed last night and I had to laugh at how the cycle of life never ends. While the kids got jammied, teeth brushed and started picking up the toy room, I threw the laundry in the dryer with an extra dryer sheet to mask the musty smell, reset the door alarm on the fridge, and headed over to the kennel to let Dusty out to go potty. Oops - she's not here.

During the day, Dusty follows me absolutely everywhere I go and on most days it drives me bonkers. I spend hours each day with my personal space infringed on and I can't even go to the bathroom without the dog following me and waiting outside the door. We do this all day long, Dusty following and me telling her to go lay down, and never in a million years did I think I would miss that. But as I puttered around doing the myriad of things that need to get done to put four kids and one adult to bed, the house felt oddly quiet and slightly off. There was no Dusty following me from room to room at bed time, I didn't have to tell Grant 18 times to stop playing with the dog and get in bed, and there was no jingle of her tags announcing her routine of sniffing the garbage cans, checking on each of the kids and plopping on the loft landing to stand guard while I work on the computer. I'm starting to realize what an integral part of our family Dusty is and I'm so glad to have that reminder. I thought I'd welcome the break while she was at the farm, but I'm already looking forward to her home-coming. She's going to be one good mama!

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