Friday, April 16, 2010

The Dog I Didn't Want

By D'Ann Mateer

I really don’t know why I wanted that cat. Emma became her name. Midnight black, she was abandoned just before Halloween and the shelter wouldn’t take her. So we did.

Of course we were still newlywedish. I’d just graduated from college; he was in his third year of law school. We had no children and no intention of children for a while. So we took on this kitty.

Fast forward a dozen or so years. I hated that cat. Three kids in three and a half years will make work up to your eyeballs, and the last thing you need is one more creature to care for. So there was no love lost between that cat and me. She came with us on three moves, but shortly after the third one, we went on vacation. When we came home, Emma had vanished.

We think maybe she went somewhere to die.

I’ll admit, I breathed a sigh of relief. Now all I had to care for were the other humans in my house. No more vet visits or cat food or figuring out what to do with her when we were gone for a length of time. Life could settle down a bit.

Then our best friends (we had purposely built our house next door to theirs) got a puppy. An Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix. In fact, my oldest son (nine years old at the time) went with them to pick it up.

Oh it was cute all right. All fat and furry. I saw the gleam rise into my children’s eyes. But I’ve never been a mom who is afraid to say no. I had nothing to fear.

“They were so cute, Mom,” Aaron told me. That’s all he said. No begging. No pleading. No cajoling. Not even an actually request. But what he didn’t say came through loud and clear.

In that moment I saw God—how He sees our desires even when we don’t put them into words. And I saw my own selfishness in denying this thing to my children simply for the reason that it was a hassle I didn’t want to deal with.

We took them the next day and got the last puppy in the litter. Abby is her name. God was gracious and gave us a smart dog. I don’t think I could have handled a stupid one. She’s been a pain on occasion, and yes, a hassle, too. But my kids love her. My husband loves her. I tolerate her. Still, she’s been part of our family for eight years next month. She’s spoiled rotten. She’s mostly scared of her own shadow.

Even with all of that, I’m glad she’s ours.

What was your favorite pet? Did you have one growing up? Do your kids have one?


  1. I always loved little tiny dogs. My family growing up didn't have a dog until I moved away to college. We lived on a main road, and my mom has a soft heart and couldn't bear the thought of her pet being hit by a car. So we had rabbits.

    A few years ago, I finally talked my husband into letting me get my little dog. The kids desperately wanted one too, but my husband is Lebanese, and they don't really do "pet" dogs, only guard dogs.

    We brought home Scruffy, a little six pound fluffy white and black malti-poo. Everyone adored him. Even Dad. I loved the way Scruffy brought out the soft side of my middle son, who is typically tough and stoic.

    But Scruffy is a companion dog, and he hated anytime we left him. So we toted him around in a doggie purse or baby sling for the first six months.

    Finally, we decided Scruffy needed his own dog. So we bought Bella. She was only a two pound white and buff puff ball when we brought her home.

    Scruffy and Bella are now married, (my oldest daughter performed the ceremony because she didn't want them living in sin--although they're both fixed, they don't seem to realize) blissfully in love, and perfectly happy for us to leave them at the house.

  2. What a sweet story, Dina! I always imagined if I ever had a dog it would be a tiny one. Instead I got this one--not huge, but not small, by any means!

    For all the years we lived next door to our best friends who had Abby's sister (Millie), they were inseparable in the back yard. (We didn't have a fence between the two yards.) Now that they've been away from each other for a while, though, they don't cotton to each other like they used to!

  3. Hi D'Ann. What a sweet looking dog! I love those border collies. I think they're the cutest ever. I had a Scottie dog while I was growing up. She died right after I got married. Unfortunately, my husband is a cat person and not a dog person. And I'm allergic to his cats.

    I can identify with the way you felt about that cat. Once my husband brought home a cat that had been hanging out at the hamburger stand begging for cheeseburgers. Every day the cat went back to the stand, and my husband would go and get him. He named him after the burger stand. We had that cat for about ten years, and he loved me even though I wasn't his biggest fan. He even followed me on walks around the neighborhood. One day, like your Emma, he just disappeared. And we thought he probably went off somewhere to die. It was funny, even though I'm not a cat person, I did miss him terribly when he was gone.

  4. Hey D'Ann, I loved the post. Wow, could I relate because that's how I feel about pets, too.

    Dina - I've always heard that you need a pet for your pet. But I never thought you were one of those people who carry their little dog everywhere. I have a new image of you now, LOL.

    We've gone through a couple dogs since living on the farm. They all stay outside. But we had to give a couple away because they chased and ate the chickens.

    We did have a beautiful border collie given to us because she'd been abused and wasn't any use to the rancher who found her. Her name was Savay and whenever we called out 'Away' to bring the goats and sheep around to us, she'd freeze and drop because she was never sure if we were calling her or calling 'away'. She'd peek at us, rise up a bit, glance at the animals, peek at us again, then finally charge after them. It always took twice as long to bring them in than if we'd had a regular working dog but since we couldn't afford the 1000+ they cost, we figured we were better off than with nothing. :)

    She was very good herding in the ducks and chickens at night, though. After several years, we had to put her down because she'd developed an inoperable tumor. We got rid of the goats and sheep about a year after that.

    Now, we just have an anatolian shepherd as a farm dog. Oh, and JJ has a budgie here in the house.


  5. Anita, my parents and siblings never thought I was one of those people to carry a dog around in a purse either. My mom and sister are super soft and girly, so I'm considered the tough one.

    Boy were they shocked.

    But the poor little thing would cry and shake and puke when we left him alone. Trust me, you would have stuck him in a purse too.

  6. Sweet post, D'Ann. I like reading everyone's stories too. I'm still in mourning over our puppy issue, so I won't comment further, but this was fun to read. Thanks!

  7. Suzie--I might have missed that cat eventually, but we got the dog a week after we discovered the cat had disappeared!

    I had to laugh, Anita. When Abby was younger she would try to herd all of us into one room of the house! Guess those inbred instincts are hard to overcome. But now that she's old, she just want to sleep--and in the house, no less!

    I'm sorry, Susanne. I knew when I posted this it would be hard for you. Life does that to us sometimes, doesn't it--I got what I didn't want and you can't have what you did want. But the Lord uses different things in each of our lives to draw us close to HIm and conform us to His image, doesn't He? I wish it weren't that way! I wish you could have kept your puppy!

  8. Oh, look at your cute, big kids and their dog. We have a cat. When my middle son found a stray, I let him bring her in, but we advertised that we'd found her. Then, the owner took her away. Zach said, "I will miss her all day long." So, I asked a friend if she knew of any kittens that needed a home. We had our Matilda within two weeks.

    When I was young, I begged for a horse. We lived on a farm. My horse was named Sundance. We were great pals for many years.

  9. I'm so glad you were able to replace the kitten for your son, Mary. What a lovely memory to share!

  10. D'Ann, this almost made me cry! We had a wonderful border collie named Kip that looked almost exactly like yours.

    I could relate to your revelation about denying your kids something because of your own selfishness. I had the same realization about refusing to let them do things that are perfectly normal kid activities just because I don't like those things. That's a hard parental lesson to learn. At least you got a dog out of it! I think I just got gray hair.

    This is going to sound awful, but my favorite pet tends to be the one I have right now - whenever now is. : )


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