Hell has Frozen Over and Pigs are Flying. Or, How I came to Love a Dog.

December 15, 2013

It’s a story that really needs to be told.  It’s not just about how our household of six plus four chickens plus a cat added a canine to the mix. It’s unbelievable and so good. If you know me in real life, or even virtual life, you have probably heard about how much I have NOT EVER wanted a dog. Mr. Uhler and the children, on the other hand, have desperately wanted one.  It’s not that I don’t like animals, or pets, or that I don’t want my people to be happy.  It’s that a dog represented ONE MORE THING TO TAKE CARE OF on our already overflowing plate. We’ve got a daddy who travels a lot, a mommy who is growing her own business while trying to juggle piano and soccer and swim team and church activities and, oh yeah, cookingcleaningorganizingexcercisingstayingsane. Not to mention dog hair. Dog. Hair. Eww. Just the thought grosses me out. And dog poop. Need I say more? Not exactly in my landscaping plan.

So for years we’ve been having this conversation about a hypothetical dog.  And then we had a baby (now a puppy-like two year-old) and I felt like that was the period at the end of the discussion. No way, now how could we add a dog to the mix. But Mr. Uhler was turning 40. And guess what he wanted for his birthday. He wanted that dog almost as much as I DIDN’T want a dog. So here’s how it went down.

We were having a somewhat heated (maybe warmed) conversation about his birthday present and the possible dog-alternative gifts. I don’t know what was different about this particular, time we had the discussion, but I realized that he had really just resigned himself to the fact that he wouldn’t ever have a dog. And that broke my heart a little.  So for some reason I just started looking online. You know, just to see if we could possibly find the kind of dog we wanted (Shedless! Labradoodle or Goldendoodle) as a rescue dog somewhere.  I started researching the breeds that are hypoallergenic.  We have a lot of people in our home every week and I knew a dog would be a horrible reason for people to feel awful in our home.  If they hated my cooking that would be one thing. If their face swelled up upon crossing our threshold that would be lame.

Well, the more I looked, the more discouraged I became. I knew that realistically we are too busy to train a puppy, and any adult poodle mix was either super old or….just not very cute. Not to mention the non-rescue dogs are EXPENSIVE!  Like crazy expensive. Like if I had all the money in the world I don’t know if I could buy one of these dogs.  After looking at website after website I had decided that if we had a dog in our home my dream situation would be to have a medium sized, apricot colored, multi-generataional (Labradoodle bred to Labradoodle for the softest and most hypoallergenic fleece) adult, house-trained Australian Labradoodle. Yeah, right. People don’t get rid of these dogs. Not after that kind of investment.

On a whim I called a local breeder and left a message telling her we were sort of interested in an adult dog and could she please call me on the off chance that she ever came across one needing a new home. Well, fifteen minutes later (a fluke for her) she called me back. I told her a little about our family and that we were just sorta kind exploring our options and all about MY DREAM DOG requirements. “It just so happens” she says, “that I have an adult dog with me who needs to be re-homed. I’ve had her for a few weeks and I have been too busy to put her up on my website. If I did I know I would get bombarded with calls and could probably sell her 20 times over in 24 hours.  Oh, she’s a medium sized, apricot colored, multi-gen, adult Australian Labradoodle. Would you like to come and meet her?” And here is my reminder of how God thinks he is really funny. (Well, sometimes he is).

I told Justin (this all happened the same day of our conversation, about two weeks before his birthday) I had to go run some “birthday errands.” They were time sensitive and I needed to go right after dinner and I didn’t know when I would be back.  I drove up to Sammamish to meet Molly and the breeder.  She immediately jumped into my lap (the dog, not the breeder) and rolled over, telling me she wanted her belly rubbed. Her face was adorable with the sweetest brown eyes and the softest, waviest fleece. She didn’t feel like a dog.  More like a person in a dog costume. And she was JUST the right size. About 18 inches high at the shoulder. We don’t have a huge house and it already is very full with six people and all their accoutrements. One thing holding me back from adding a dog to the mix, especially knowing we wanted a poodle mix, was the size.  But she is really just right. I loved Pat’s philosophy about raising dogs and just really enjoyed my conversation with her. And what’s more, since she had already sold the dog once instead of her normal fee she asked for a donation to be made to World Vision for typhoon relief, an organization we love and support. Double. Bonus.

After about an hour visit where I asked and answered lots of questions, we decided I would tell her within 24 hours what my decision was. Considering it hadn’t even been 8 hours since I went from Hell No to Maybe this was all moving very fast. I can’t say it was love at first sight, but I can say that my heart had definitely changed.  Instead of thinking about all the potential inconveniences of having a dog, I was getting excited at the thought of how happy my people would be, how she would add to our family, how beyond surprised and thrilled Mr. Uhler would be if he did indeed get what he wanted for his birthday. I talked to my dear friend Lisa all the way home that night and it just really helped me confirm that Molly was our dog.  It seemed pretty clear.  I said I don’t want to get a dog unless…..God said Done.

For two weeks I kept the secret and was growing more and more excited and nervous about it.  Every time I would see people with a dog I would smile inside and find them adorable. I never would have even noticed before. It’s like when you’re in love and you see other people in love and you’re so happy that they are feeling what you’re feeling.  The day before his birthday Mr. Uhler and I had alone together without the offspring so I took him out to brunch in Seattle for his birthday.  We ate at Portage Bay Cafe, which I can’t wait to make up an excuse to get back to as soon as possible (Eat Like You Give a Damn is their motto!). I was trying to breath my way through breakfast and just enjoy the moment because I could barely contain myself.  Then we walked around Elliot Bay Books, because that’s just what we do when we’re in Seattle.  The breeder’s son was meeting us with Molly and I had arranged to keep it a surprise until the last minute.  We were taking a little stroll in the park near the bookstore when a man walks up to Justin and says “I heard it’s your birthday. Would you like a dog?”  (that was good, huh?) It took him a while to realize what was happening and then it finally started to sink in. He was in shock. I think he still is.

Molly has been with us about a week and we all adore her.  She just sort of fits right in to our lives, our weekend walks, our couch cuddle times. She is the mellowest, easiest, softest, sweetest dog I have ever met and she’s just right for our family.  It took her a few days to warm up to Justin but she bonded with me right away. She hasn’t had any accidents, chewed on anything, doesn’t bark or jump on furniture unless invited. Really, she is my dream dog. And she’s beautiful. I can’t wait for her fleece to grow out a bit more into those soft wavy curls. She sleeps through the night and doesn’t even leave the foot of our bed until I get up. It’s all been great. And just like most things, once you do it, you can’t imagine your life before.

If God hadn’t made it so clear and so easy, who knows if we would have ever gotten a dog.  But He did.  And it was. And it just reminds me that not only does He think He’s very funny, He also loves to give good gifts to His children.  Not undershirts and socks, but that shiny, pretty, dreamy thing you’ve been wanting forever.  Not because it will complete you or make your life whole or more satisfying, but because he is a good Father who delights when we delight in Him and His goodness, even if what He gives us is something we never knew we wanted.

Happy Birthday Mr. Uhler.




p.s. Now that you’ve gotten your dog, can I get my tattoos?