This one doesn’t really qualify as an ornament and this is the first year I actually hung it on the tree. It may have been the one that gave me the idea for writing these daily posts around ornaments.
2020 and 2021 have been the hardest years for all of us. Corporately we have all gone through a season that has taken much and stretched us and divided us and it has been felt globally.
As I hung our ornaments this year, I decided to use as many as I could squeeze on the tree and when I saw our Mitzi-girl’s Christmas collar, it just seemed right that it should be hung up there too.
Like just about every other family, when our kids were little they asked repeatedly for a dog. Russ had not had one as a child, but we had several. I am a dog person so I was on Team Children.
But the sell was hard.
We tried birds and fish and found them to be messy and not cuddly. A lot of investment on our part; zero return on theirs.
Finally as Christmas was approaching one year and they were begging for a dog, Russ told me he didn’t want one because he knew it would eventually die and we would all be broken hearted and he just didn’t want to go through that. Also he was concerned about the training and us being gone a lot and the practical side of owning a pet like a dog.
I just told him that I understood, but I was going to be very sad when they were adults and I heard them tell people they never had a dog. I also told him that loving and being loved by a dog was something I felt every human should experience.
I must have broke him.
On Christmas morning there were envelopes in the tree with contracts for the kids to sign stating their commitment to the care and feeding of the dog.
They signed happily and I was ecstatic and also laughing because I knew full well I would be the one scooping poop and cleaning up after and sweeping up hair out of the corners of our wood flooring.
every. single. day.
Thus began the hunt for a dog.
It had to be smallish, female and above all, not a German Shepherd.
I wanted a mixed breed and insisted we buy from one of the local shelters.
So we would go to the pet adoption place regularly and fall in love only to find nothing suitable or think we had the perfect one and have Russ come and say he thought it was going to be too big. These were always fun moments with our three kids.
Then a friend suggested we check the paper for “found” puppies and contact them so see if anyone had ever claimed.
Shortly after hearing this strategy we saw one posted by a family whose son had found a little puppy struggling up the bank by a bridge over the lake near our house.
We called and the family said it was the sweetest pup and they were sure someone had abandoned a litter down by the lake. We had just experienced a heavy snow and the boy was driving slowly across the bridge and this little fur ball caught his eye. So he went back and got her.
Sadly they couldn’t keep her because their older dog was not a fan and they had just taken her to Love at First Sight where we made regular stops.
We hurried there and despite the fact that she clearly had Shepherd mix in her, we all…including Russ….fell in love with her.
It was a rough two years of puppy-hood for our non-dog-wanting dad, but she won his heart.
And the day we had to put her to sleep, he stood with the rest of us as we all put our hands on her and told her we loved her and thanked her for being the best. dog. ever.
Yes, we all cried. And yes, we all found it hard to go home that day. And yes, we still would look for her face to greet us at the back door and could hear phantom foot padded feet at times coming down the hall.
Even though I had told her ten million times that I would miss her one day, but I would never miss sweeping up her hair…I sort of do.
There is something about the unconditional love of a dog that we all need right now. Mitzi just knew when one of us was upset about something and she would leave her comfortable spot under the piano and come sit by the one who was hurting.
The ministry of presence.
We could all use that and we can all be that.